Blaze in Royal Oak area leaves $3M in damage
photo courtesy sheri horvat
A massive blaze gutted three homes and damaged six others in the city’s northwest yesterday afternoon, leaving upwards of $3 million of damage in its wake.
Resident Sheri Horvat said she had just put her 11-month-old daughter, Emily, down for a nap when she heard “popping and cracking” outside her Royal Oak neighbourhood home.
“I just ran out front with my phone to see what was going on and started to call 9-1-1, when a neighbour said they’d already called,” said Horvat, of the Royal Elm Rd. fire.
“Well, I mean, you’re kind of in shock more than anything else. You’re wondering ‘how far is (the fire) going to go and how big is it going to get.’”
Thirty firefighters and nine fire trucks were called to the scene of the two-alarm blaze, said Calgary Fire Department spokeswoman Deb Bergeson.
By the time crews arrived, the middle home of three homes was engulfed in flames, with the house on either side of it also ablaze.
Bergeson said the brigade focused on limiting the exposure of nearby homes to the fire, while extinguishing the main blaze.
The melted vinyl siding at Amit Bhatnagar’s house, directly across the street from the charred homes, pales in comparison with the damage of his neighbours, he said.
“The damage is devastating — there’s nothing left of these houses,” he said, watching firefighters carve through a garage door with a large chainsaw.
“What are you going to do? Your house is gone and you have to rebuild your entire life. Insurance will cover your house, but your family possessions, your memories, they’re all gone.”
Bhatnagar described the community as a tight-knit one that will rally around the families that have been affected by the huge loss.
Fire crews will bring in excavation equipment to sift through the rubble in search of a cause for the fire, although investigators are already focusing on the garage of 197 Royal Elm Rd. as a possible ignition point of the blaze.
No one was home at any of the affected residences when fire crews arrived, said Bergeson, and no injuries to firefighters were reported.
Bergeson believes a fire station opened in the area in February of this year contributed to the speedy response and limited the damage to surrounding homes.