It took 34 firefighters from three different municipalities nearly 11 hours to bring a large fire under control and confirm it was out Monday, said Wainfleet Fire and Emergency Services fire Chief Harry Flagg.
The fire consumed two homes at 10566 and 10568 Lakeshore Rd. in Wainfleet, between Bessey and Quarry Rds., and caused $1.5 million in damage to the properties, not including contents and vehicles that were also destroyed, the chief said.
Flagg said Wainfleet was dispatched at 5:03 a.m. Monday with the first truck on scene at 5:16. Mutual aid was requested from Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services and Haldimand County Fire and Emergency Services in the form of tanker trucks and manpower.
“We had eight firefighters from Port Colborne and two from Haldimand, and there were 11 trucks on scene, including four tankers.”
Neighbours on Lakeshore Rd., and Woodland Dr., which backs on to the two properties, heard the commotion Monday and said when they came outside, flames from the blaze were leaping at least 20 metres into the air. Smoke from the fire could be seen five kilometres out on Lake Erie and in nearby Port Colborne.
Flagg said the fire was discovered by one of the homeowners, who tried to extinguish it with a fire hose that ended up melting in his hands.
“It spread due to the close proximity of all the houses along Lakeshore Rd.”
As firefighters were fighting the blaze, from both the Lakeshore Rd. and Woodland Dr. sides, large pops could be heard coming from inside a garage on the Woodland side.
The garage contained propane and acetylene tanks and firefighters were advised not to enter it. Beside the garage, one of the homeowners’ cars was destroyed, while another one nearby suffered damage from the heat and flames.
One of the homes destroyed was under renovation at the time, and Flagg said nearby homes, including one 20 metres away, were damaged due to the intense heat.
“One of our biggest challenges was the heat and humidity, and the extreme exhaustion that comes with it.”
Flagg said his paid part-time firefighters fought a barn fire on Saturday afternoon, and many of them had never been exposed to two fires in such a short time frame.
“Roughly 17 of our firefighters have less than two years of experience.”
Another challenge, he said, was some of his firefighters had to leave for their full-time jobs by 7:30 or 8 a.m.
“Most of the fire was out by then, but we still had to do overhaul, make the scene safe and confirm the fire was out.”
Niagara Regional Police had Lakeshore Rd. shut down and closed access to Woodland to all but emergency vehicles. Niagara EMS paramedics were on standby at the scene.
Enbridge Gas shut down gas to the home, and later excavated the line and capped it off. Hydro One shut down power as well.
An excavator helped take down walls and move debris around so firefighters could hit any hotspots left before they cleared the scene at 3:44 p.m.
Here’s a video from the fire