By Gerald Tracey
Renfrew – A fire early last Thursday night completely destroyed a two-storey brick home in the fertile farmland of Admaston/Bromley Township, west of Renfrew, and displaced a family who managed to escape with just the clothing they were wearing and little else.
The fire was reported to the Renfrew Fie Department at 6:52 p.m. Admaston/Bromley has an agreement with the town to provide first response to this area of the municipality, about five km from the town centre. The home was located at 597 South McNaughton, near the intersection of Butler Road.
A/B Fire Chief Bill McHale said the fire had already destroyed a garage and addition at the rear of the house before it was noticed and then spread quickly through the structure.
“One of the kids went outside to play basketball and ran back shouting the house was on fire,” he said.
When Renfrew firefighters from arrived at the scene, the fire was already spreading quickly through the house and when the first trucks arrived from Douglas a few minutes later, flames were coming out through the windows.
The flames were fanned by a strong southerly wind. Heavy black smoke could be seen from several kilometres away and the wind carried the smoke directly towards Renfrew, blanketing much of the town with smoke.
Chief McHale said firefighters were at the Douglas Fire Hall when the call came in. They had just returned from another call and so their response time was about eight minutes. Some firefighters went to the scene in their own vehicles and immediately reported the house was engulfed in flames.
“We knew what we had because of the first boots on the ground and immediately requested mutual aid from Horton Township,” he said. “As soon as we crested Stuart’s Hill (on the South McNaughton Line) we knew we were in for a battle.”
The occupants of the residence were taken to a neighbour’s home.
After the flames were extinguished, an excavator was brought to the scene to knock down the skeletal remains of the structure. The roof had already collapsed and leaving the walls standing would have created a danger, the chief said.
Horton provided one tanker and three firefighters to haul water from Renfrew while two trucks from the Douglas department also transported water to a portable reservoir set up on the road.
Chief McHale said the fire likely started from wood ashes that had been discarded earlier in the back yard and were fanned by the wind. It is difficult to estimate the loss, but Chief McHale said there was insurance.
Douglas firefighters finished at the scene at about 2:30 a.m.
The fire was one of two that evening. Close to midnight, a bungalow in Whitewater Township near Haley Station was also destroyed by fire.
And on Monday morning, an elderly man perished in a fire on Pastway Road, just east of Renfrew.