Firefighters battle a blaze at a home on Keith Close in the Kentwood neighbourhood of Red Deer. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

High winds fed flames that destroyed two Red Deer homes Saturday

Homes in Kentwood and Deer Park destroyed only hours apart

Two Red Deer homes were destroyed by fire only hours apart on Saturday as high winds fanned the flames.

“The wind was definitely a factor in both fires,” said Red Deer Emergency Services assistant deputy chief Curtis Schaefer on Monday afternoon. “It definitely contributed to the rapid growth of both fires.”

Environment Canada reported winds were gusting up to 70 km/h on Saturday.

Red Deer Emergency Services was first called shortly after 2:30 p.m. to a home on Keith Close in Kentwood. The homeowner reported that a fire had started on the back deck of the home.

“The first crew arrived and found heavy fire conditions at the back side of the home extending up into the attic of the home,” said Schaefer.

The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation.

“We don’t know the exact source of the origin. But it was in that area at the back, on the deck or under the deck. We’re not 100 per cent sure at the moment.”

The investigation was expected to be wrapped up in a day or so, he said.

One neighbour reported a whooshing sound from the rear of the home and then saw flames. Other neighbours said that they heard a propane tank was involved.

Schaefer said that is part of the investigation. “I don’t want to elaborate on whether that was part of it or not.”

The adult homeowner who phoned in the fire got out safely and there were no other injuries. Schaefer did not know if others lived in the single-family home, which was badly damaged and uninhabitable. No damage estimate is available yet.

“The roof was burnt off the home and, of course, water damage from us putting the fire out in the interior of the home.”

Sixteen fire-medics responded to the fire, which took about two hours to bring under control.

While firefighters were battling the blaze in Kentwood another call came in about 3:30 p.m. on Duston Street in Deer Park.

“That was reported as a garage fire,” he said. “Initial crews arrived and found the garage was on fire. And due to wind conditions on Saturday, the fire was kind of pushing into the main part of the home.

“It pushed up into the attic on that house as well and we lost the roof on that house. There was significant damage to the roof structure and the garage and water damage inside the home.”

One adult was at home at the time and was able to get out safely. Schaefer said he does not know if others lived in the home.

Red Deer Emergency Services had to call in an off-duty crew of four firefighters in a truck to respond to the Deer Park blaze. Red Deer County and Sylvan Lake fire departments also offered support.

The county arrived with three trucks and 11 firefighters and Sylvan Lake sent a truck and four firefighters.

The city was able to shift a dozen firefighters and two trucks to Deer Park from the Kentwood fire as that was brought under control. It took about 90 minutes to bring the Deer Park fire under control.

That home is also uninhabitable and no damage estimate is yet available. The investigation continues.

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