A Wednesday afternoon fire in Innisfail that left a family homeless was started by an unattended scented candle, says the fire chief.
Innisfail Fire Department was called at about 4:20 p.m. to a home in the 29th Avenue and 43rd Street area of the town.
When firefighters arrived, flames and heavy smoke could be seen coming from the second storey.
Fire Chief Gary Leith said the blaze was discovered by a friend who lived in the home with a woman and two children, aged seven and 14.
“The mum and two girls were out of the house at the time. (The friend) went out to do some yard work and he noticed the smell. He returned to the property and that’s how the fire was discovered.”
The blaze did about $200,000 damage, said Leith. The family are staying with friends.
Firefighters remained on the scene until about 7 p.m.
“A search was conducted to ensure no one was still in the building, and salvage operations were then conducted to protect personal items on the main floor,” said a news release from the town.
The fire prompted a warning from the fire chief to ensure homes are fully equipped with fire detectors on all floors.
“There were no smoke detectors on the second floor, which would have given early warning of the fire,” he said.
Leith said they have been getting more fire calls during the pandemic.
“Within our community, we have noticed an increase (in residential fires) since the start of the COVID restrictions. More people are home, and are maybe a little careless.
“We would like to stress that more people have working smoke detectors in their homes and that they test them.”
Carbon monoxide detectors are also recommended. Locating them near furnaces to detect any gas possibly leaking from the heating system is recommended.
Depending on the layout of the home, other carbon monoxide detectors may also be a good idea, said Leith.
The Town of Innisfail and ATCO are partners in a program that provides free carbon monoxide detectors.