Photo by ASHLI BARRETT/Advocate Staff

Blast, flames damage home

Damage is now being assessed at a Red Deer house that exploded and then burst into flames early Saturday morning.

Damage is now being assessed at a Red Deer house that exploded and then burst into flames early Saturday morning.

Fire crews were called at 7:12 a.m. by a young adult who had been awakened by the smell of gas inside the family home at 530 Wishart Street, said assistant platoon chief Gary Engebretson.

Two young adults, believed to be the children of the homeowners, had called 911 and then fled the building and were standing outside when the gas ignited. It blew out three walls, knocking the house off its foundation and setting off a major fire.

Engebretson pointed to an inlet on the north wall of the house, connected to the gas meter, as the most likely source of the leak.

Garage contents, including an SUV, were not badly damaged, excluding smoke damage and a hole fire crews cut through one of the doors.

“The inside of the house was burned pretty good,” said Engebretson.

The parents were out of town, he said.

Next-door neighbour Sheldon Ross said he was still in bed and sound asleep when the noise and shock abruptly awoke him and his hound, Wally.

“I could see the kids out on the sidewalk. They said everybody got out. All I could see was a little fire from here, I didn’t see too much,” said Ross, adding that the action definitely frightened his dog.

He and other neighbours were asked to leave their homes while firefighters tackled the blaze. Ross said he watched for awhile, and then went for a drive. He and Wally were back in their house by 11 a.m. and winding down as other neighbours walked by to view the damage.

Fire Chief Jack McDonald said the building does not appear salvageable because, while the outside walls remain standing, there is heavy damage inside and it had parted from its foundations at a number of locations.

Investigators from ATCO Gas were expected to be at the site Monday to pinpoint the leak.

Any number of sources could have set off the gas as it filled the house, including pilot lights or glow plugs in the furnace and water heater, said MacDonald.

While gas leaks can occur, explosions are rare, he said.

Deer Park residents witnessed a dramatic example in January of 1992, when a house exploded while a couple and their teenaged daughter slept inside. The girl was propelled into the street and her parents were slammed into the ceiling of their bedroom. All three escaped injury, while their neighbour’s homes were scorched from the blaze that followed.

The two people sleeping in the Wishart Street home on Saturday were fortunate to have detected the smell of gas and left the house before it blew up, said MacDonald.

Emergency crews they had called to check the leak were already on their way when the gas ignited, said Engebretson.

Just Posted

Red Deer church donates to Safe Harbour

It was all about helping those in need at Safe Harbour in… Continue reading

Former firefighter with PTSD sues Syncrude over suspended benefits, dismissal

CALGARY — A lawsuit filed by a former firefighter and paramedic against… Continue reading

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

HALIFAX — Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi may have hoped to quietly disappear from… Continue reading

Democrats aren’t buying Trump’s shutdown-ending ‘compromise’

WASHINGTON — In a bid to break the shutdown stalemate, President Donald… Continue reading

Updated: Red Deer welcomes 2019 Canada Winter Games Team Alberta

About 250 Alberta athletes are participating in the Games

Students seen mocking Native Americans could face expulsion

One 11-minute video of the confrontation shows the Haka dance and students loudly chanting

Curtain rising Sunday night on total lunar eclipse

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The celestial curtain will be rising soon on… Continue reading

At 30-day mark, shutdown logjam remains over border funding

WASHINGTON — Thirty days into the partial government shutdown, Democrats and Republicans… Continue reading

Holocaust victims buried after remains found in UK museum

LONDON — The remains of six unidentified Holocaust victims were buried in… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘So what’ if Trump and Cohen discussed testimony

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani left open Sunday the… Continue reading

Photos: Rocks fly at 37th Annual Oilmen’s Bonspiel

Twenty-nine teams gathered at the Pidherney Curling Centre in Red Deer for… Continue reading

Death toll reaches 79 in Mexico fuel pipeline fire horror

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — People in the town where a gasoline explosion killed… Continue reading

With Trump out, Davos chief eyes fixing world architecture

DAVOS, Switzerland — The founder of the World Economic Forum says U.S.… Continue reading

Mexican pipeline explosion kills 71, leaves nightmare of ash

TLAHUELILPAN, Mexico — Gerardo Perez returned Saturday to the scorched field in… Continue reading

Most Read