At least three homes in southwest Edmonton’s Terwillegar neighbourhood were badly damaged in a fire on Monday, but crews say given conditions, it could have been much worse.
Firefighters were called to Stevens Crescent just before 11 a.m.
One neighbour said she came across the scene before fire crews arrived.
“That first house was completely gone, and the second house was just beginning to go. And that was just before 11,” neighbour Abigail Lerma told reporters.
“I just prayed. What do you do? I’m not a firefighter.”
When firefighters arrived, heavy smoke and flames were already visible at two houses. In total, 10 crews were called to the scene.
“We looked over and we saw a house on flames. It was so much fire. It was like 10 feet. It was gigantic. There was so much smoke,” said neighbour Jane Mercer.
Firefighters used ladders to spray the flames from above.
Smoke was visible high above the neighbourhood.
No injuries have been reported.
“We have three houses involved now, possibly four. Right now they’re working at containment and making sure this doesn’t spread any further,” said Edmonton Fire Rescue Services district chief Brian Williams.
Williams said high winds cause the flames to spread fast.
“It made this fire even more aggressive, even more intense for our crews arriving, and they faced it head on. The flames were right in their face, they had limited space to move, to conduct any operations.”
“As you can tell it was a very cramped neighbourhood. Many cars, we’ve got high winds, limited hydrant space.”
The fire was declared under control at 12:12 p.m.
“It feels traumatic, even though it’s not my house. The love for your neighbours just swells in your heart at a time like this,” Lerma said.
“It just doesn’t seem real. You never expect to see a fire, especially in your neighbourhood,” said Mercer.
“Thank you to all the firefighters and paramedics and police who came out. We really appreciate you.”
Williams said Edmontonians need to be especially careful with flammable materials given the dry conditions and hot weather.
“Cigarette butts. Make sure they’re extinguished extremely adequately, don’t take chances with backyard fires at all.”
“You leave them unattended with a wind, embers go everywhere, they get everywhere, and they cause fires. Any careless behaviour whatsoever, this is an absolute tinderbox of fuels, wind and heat. It’s just not a good combo.”
Investigators have not yet begun to examine the scene in Terwillegar to determine a cause.