July 18th, 2024

Cigarette likely the cause of fire that destroyed three Medicine Hat homes

By Peggy Revell on June 12, 2017.

NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT The remains of the garage of one of the three houses razed by a fire in Southridge is seen on Monday. Investigators believe "errant smoking material" – most likely a cigarette – started the fire on Saturday afternoon.

prevell@medicinehatnews.com @MHNprevell

Fire investigators say “errant smoking material” — most likely a cigarette — is the cause behind a fire that destroyed three Southridge homes Saturday.

“Our fire investigators have determined that it was errant smoking material that fell through the deck and lodged along some wood, which with the winds that came up — on another day it may not have been a big issue but (Saturday) with those winds, it created the fire,” said Deputy Fire Chief Lance Purcell, saying that this smoking material was most likely a cigarette.

The damage and losses is an estimated $1.5 million, said Purcell. The three homes have now been released back to the owners, although security is still in place. The fire isn’t considered suspicious.

Emergency responders were called to the 300 block of Sprague Way right before 5 p.m. on Saturday, with the fire having spread from one home’s deck area to a neighbouring house due to the winds. While working to get these fires under control, the wind changed direction — leading to the roof of a house across the street also catching fire.

“On another day without the wind, it would have been a totally different outcome. That wind played a huge role in this,” said Purcell. “We really at one point were just trying to make sure we cut off the fire to make sure it didn’t get to more houses.”

Purcell also reiterated his thanks to the police and ambulance service for their efforts during the fire. “Without them, I think that third fire would have been much worse than it was,” he said.

There’s going to be some things salvageable and saveable in all houses, said Purcell, but that will be sorted out between the insurance companies and home owners.

“But there is extensive damage to both houses,” he said. “We may see two or all three of the houses all taken down. We don’t know. Two of them are structurally unsound, and the roof collapsed on the other one.

“It is a devastating loss to all that are involved.”

So far, a GoFundMe page has been set up for one of the families involved, https://www.gofundme.com/help-for-the-campbells.

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