Four departments; 33 firefighters battle blaze south of Rossland
It took 33 firefighters from four different fire departments more than four hours to knock down a massive blaze in Paterson, about four kilometres down the road from Rossland toward the border, Tuesday evening.
Kootenay Boundary Regional fire chief Terry Martin said the couple who lived in the house heard something and saw people running down their driveway. Because of their proximity to the highway, they thought there might have been a car accident and came outside to see what the kerfuffle was about, only to find people were yelling at them to get away from the house, because the roof was ablaze.
By the time fire crews arrived at the large log home (the call came in a 7:24 p.m.), the fire was already involved enough to prevent firefighters from entering the home.
“It was a tough fire to fight, because of the roof – you can’t send firefighters into a structure where the roof is likely to collapse in on them, it’s not safe,” Martin said. “We had to work in defensive mode, with an exterior fire attack.”
Compounding the problem was the absence of a fire hydrant – they had to use water tenders from Rossland, Trail and Montrose to shuttle water from a Rossland hydrant to battle the blaze.
Martin said they had the main body of the fire knocked down by midnight or 12:30 a.m., but the house was essentially gutted.
Luckily, the two home owners and their three dogs escaped unharmed, and no firefighters were injured. Fire crews were also able to prevent the fire from spreading to other structures or vehicles on the acreage, or to the nearby forested area.
“It’s good that we’ve got so much moisture lately,” he said. “If this had happened a month ago …”
He said a very rough estimate would place the damages at around $650,000, but insurance reps are on site today and will be able to provide a more solid figure.
As for what caused the fire, he said they’re leaning toward thinking it had something to do with the homeowner stoking up his wood-burning appliance shortly before all the mayhem began, but it’s really impossible to say for sure, at this juncture.