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New Year’s Day fire call
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Des camions à incendieset des ambulances s’alignent le long de l’emprise routière de la concession 1 sur le site d’un incendie le jour duNouvel An à Chute-à-Blondeau. Les occupants de lamaison et leurs trois chiens s’en sont sortis indemnes, mais leurmaison a été détruite. —photo Shirley Dickenson
Firefighters had to endure the bitter cold of the polar vortex when they answered a house fire call on New Year’s Day. “It was about minus 25, freezing tempe- rature,” said Fire Chief Dominic Normand of East Hawkesbury Township. “Hard on the guys. Hard on the equipment.” The New Year’s Day house fire was on the Concession 1 road in Chute-à-Blondeau in East Hawkesbury Township. It began with a call around 4:15 p.m. to the East Hawkesbury Fire Department about a chimney fire. The first group of firefighters to arrive at the call location could see a tower of rising smoke as they drove towards the rural residential area. The fire began in the attic area. Chief Nor- mand said the chimneymay have been bloc- ked, causing it to overheat. It then ignited part of the surrounding wall before sprea- ding to the roof. “When we got there, the attic was already engulfed in flames,” Chief Normand said, adding that the couple living in the house and their three dogs had escaped the buil- ding and were huddled outside when fire fighters arrived. Fire crews and trucks from stations in East Hawkesbury, Champlain Township, Alfred-Plantagenet Township, and The Nation Municipality stations answered the mid-afternoon call. Paramedics and other emergency personnel joined themat the site. At the time of the fire, all of Prescott-Russell was still in an extreme cold weather situa- tion with the outside temperature ranging betweenminus 20 andminus 30 depending on the wind chill factor. The extreme cold created problems for firefighters. East Hawkesbury Township has no system of fire hydrants, Chief Normand noted, so the fire department has to depend on using portable pumps to bring water from streams or other water sources. “It was so cold, the pump kept freezing up,” he said. “We had to use torches to melt the ice.” The extreme cold that day created pro- blems with hose connections and other equipment freezing up. One firefighter was designated for transporting frozen equip- ment back to the fire hall for unthawing and then bringing the gear back to the site. The tin roof of the attic also created another problem for firefighters. When the roof collapsed, Chief Normand noted, it acted “like an umbrella”, shielding some burning portions of the structure from the hose streams. Firefighters remained at the site until close tomidnight whenNew Year’s Day be- came Jan. 2 before the situation was judged under control and the fire extinguished. The house was destroyed. No injuries were reported. Both occupants of the house and their dogs stayed with friends that night and are getting help fromVictims Services to deal with their situation.
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