On Wednesday, June 10 at 4:51 a.m. the Calmar Fire Department was dispatched to a residential explosion in the Southbridge subdivision, on the west side of town. When several crews of the town’s fire services arrived, they saw that four homes were on fire, with the fire continuing to spread.
A mutual aid call was placed; Leduc County/Thorsby Detachment and Town of Devon’s fire crews promptly arrived to help suppress the fires. Crews remained on scene till approximately 2 p.m., ensuring there were no hot spots or rekindles.
The fires started in two unoccupied structures/residential homes, where it then spread to the adjacent homes. Between these homes, a mid-size empty space denied the possibility of a fire connection and strongly indicated that the fires had been set deliberately. In two homes, families were asleep when the fires were set. A disturbing fact, but the good news is that no resident was hurt.
All residents were safely evacuated from their homes prior to the fire crews’ arrival. A Leduc & District Victim Services’ team of three staff members showed up by 8 a.m. that morning to provide immediate and critical support to two families affected; other charities are assisting the families with their immediate and most pressing needs. During the fire, a Calmar firefighter suffered a minor injury. He was assessed in hospital and subsequently sent home, where he quickly recovered.
Forty-eight hours after the fire, investigators from the Calmar Fire Department, Leduc County Fire Services and the Alberta Fire Commissioner’s Office were still on scene, sifting through debris to initiate a serious investigation, as early signs strongly suggested arson.
The preliminary investigation on the Southbridge neighborhood fires is now completed; the reports and materials have been shared with the RCMP, which will continue to investigate with the collaboration of the Fire Commissioner’s Office. Calmar Fire Chief Dave Brooks was still a bit emotional about the incident when discussing it two weeks later. Emergency personnel are trained to face the darkest hour of these situations, but when it affects their community, it is still difficult to cope with.