Some Lacombe County firefighters spent 12 hours in frigid conditions putting out a fire in Mirror that claimed the life of the homeowner on Tuesday night.
Lacombe County Fire Department got a call about 8:30 p.m about a house fire near 49th Avenue and 47th Street in the hamlet, about 50 km northeast of Red Deer.
By the time volunteer firefighters from Alix and Clive arrived, the fire was fully involved, said Lacombe County fire chief Drayton Bussiere.
Six trucks and 14 firefighters were brought in to tackle the blaze, which was made more difficult by the outside temperature, which hovered in the -30s C.
Bussiere said the intensity of the blaze kept firefighters from getting inside to check for victims for some time. When they could search the house they found the homeowner dead at the scene.
Bussiere said the cold added to the challenge for firefighters.
“That type of weather just always makes fighting fires difficult,” he said. If fire hoses are shut off they almost immediately ice up.
“Our biggest challenge is keeping the guys warm enough to prevent injury.”
The balloon frame-style construction of the older home also added to the difficulties of putting out the fire. Balloon-framed homes are constructed so that the studs extend from the foundation to the roof, unlike modern homes where each floor is framed separately.
“That definitely contributed to the challenge of extinguishing the fire because are lots of void areas and things like that,” he said.
Balloon framing was largely abandoned in the 1920s and 1930s. Partly because the design made them prone to more fire damage but also because floors tended to sag over time.
Bussiere said the damage was estimated at about $300,000. An investigation was undertaken but the cause of the fire remains undetermined. No others lived in the home.