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Monday mayhem lights fire under emergency crews

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
December 1st, 2016

Castlegar firefighters earned their keep and then some Monday, with eight calls spanning the course of about 14 hours, according to fire chief Gerry Rempel.

Rempel said the first call came in at 4:25 a.m., for a two-vehicle MVA in the 2700 block of Columbia Avenue. Ambulance and RCMP were on scene when fire crews arrived.

The rest of day remained quiet, until roughly 3:30 p.m.

“We got a call to a structure fire on Hughes Road, at teh Selkirk College GIS building,” Rempel said. “At this point, it looks like it was a charging lithium battery that started it.

“Thanks to the awesome actions of one of the instructors and a member of the staff, the fire was extinguished, the alarm activated and the building evacuated very quickly. There was some substantial fire damage and serious smoke damage throughout the building.

“We’re estimating the damage at between $60,000 and $70,000.”

Then came three calls regarding complaints of backyard burning, followed by a call for a highway rescue in Pass Creek at about 6 p.m. Rescue was not required by Castlegar crews, so they returned to the hall.

While one crew was en route to the Pass Creek call, two crews were dispatched to a structure fire in a house im the 600 block of 11 Avenue.

“Apparently, a small portable radio was left on an electric stove,” Rempel explained. “The power had just been turned on to the house, and it turned out two of the burners on the stove had been left on.

“There was minimal damage – were estimating it at around $500.”

Some of the calls only required six firefighters (two in the truck and four on standby at the hall), but at the height of the days activity, a complement of fully 23 firefighters was needed to address the ongoing activity.

Bearing in mind the department has only 31 volunteers, this meant a heavy workload and long day for volunteers who were also juggling jobs, families and other responsibilities.

“I’m very impressed with our crew,” Rempel said. “Some of our guys responded to four calls in a single day.”

Categories: General

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