At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday October 9th, Chestermere Fire Services was dispatched to a house fire in the 100 block of West Creek Springs. It took a total of eight firefighting apparatus and 22 firefighters to extinguish the fire.
Despite the firefighters efforts, the fire quickly destroyed the Chestermere residence which was home to two families; a couple lived in the basement suite and a family of four, including two children lived upstairs – all of whom were able to get out of the house safely.
Both families were new to Chestermere, having only moved into the rental property one week prior to the blaze. Unfortunately neither family had insurance as they just moved here from out of province and had not yet had the opportunity to make those arrangements.
Initially Strathmore Regional Victim Services supported the families by providing shelter until the Canadian Red Cross stepped in to assist with lodging, putting the victims up in a Calgary hotel for short term.
Chestermere residents quickly rallied together to offer support for the victims. A neighbor nearby the fire has been collecting donations for the families and so far has received clothing, food, money and furniture which will help the families, who are currently looking for a new home to rent in Chestermere, to get back on their feet.
Mayor Matthews used her twitter account to seek an available home for the affected family and asked people to contact her at town hall if they were able to help.
Likewise, as soon as St. Gabriel the Archangel School heard of the tragedy admistration asked students who were able to help to bring non-perishable food items to the school which would then be collected and stored for the family until they needed it. “I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to lose everything in a fire, but especially for this family since they are new to the community” says Mary McDougall, principal of St. Gabriel School, “They do not yet have a school community and so we would like to offer that support to these children and their family.” By Friday, the students had already collected dozens of bags of groceries.
According to the fire investigators, the cause of the fire was determined to be improper disposal of smoking material near a planter box at the rear of the house.
Chestermere Fire Services was back in the community the next two evenings conducting one of their new fire prevention initiatives called “after the emergency”. This program has firefighters going door to door in the affected community within 72 hours of a major incident to discuss the incident and fire prevention tips.
Chestermere Fire Services is reminding everyone to check their smoke detectors and practice their home escape plan.