Penhold firefighters challenged by weather and icy conditions

Vacant mobile home destroyed by suspicious fire

A suspicious fire in Penhold in a vacant mobile home challenged firefighters on Saturday evening during cold, windy and very icy conditions.

Fire chief Jim Pendergast said Monday that two firefighters were pulled from duties after one slipped and fell and the other one showed signs that caused concern after using two tanks of oxygen fighting the blaze. Both men were treated at the scene and released.

The fire occurred at about 8 p.m. in the Penhold Estates mobile home park at 4000 Minto Street. There was a large column of smoke visible from several kilometers away and flames coming from a window when firefighters arrived.

When they tried to enter they found that the floor had burned through so they attacked the fire from outside until they could cut a hole through the wall and gain entry to search for anybody trapped, Pendergast said.

The mobile home had been unoccupied for several months but there were squatters staying inside who reported to the fire department that there may have been someone inside, as well as propane tanks. But no one was found and there were no tanks.

The weather and wind along with icy conditions created some challenges with footing and breathing apparatus. There is no fire hydrant in the mobile home park so firefighters used a water supply hose that connected about 500 metres away to the nearest hydrant.

The occupants of the mobile homes on both sides of the fire were evacuated for about two hours and then were allowed to return to their homes after crews checked to make sure the smoke, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide levels were safe.

There is no estimate of damage although the unit was more than 40 years old and will be torn down and removed. The cause is under investigation but is considered suspicious as there was no power to the mobile home, Pendergast said.

Penhold had 24 firefighters on scene and mutual aid of six more from Innisfail.

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