Sunday, 29 September 2013
a text from a neighbor woke me up just after 2:30am.
"sorry to text so late - FYI MAJOR fire.....evacuating houses on 20th ave.....sparks on our street"
i got up very quickly. and saw the orange glow of the fire and smoke our bedroom window.
i snapped these at 2:45am. Forty-five minutes after the firetrucks had been on scene. you could see explosions and flames above the rooftops of the houses in the distance. many explosions. you could see lit embers floating through the sky and falling into yards. a couple of helicopters were circling the area, shining lights onto the scene.
at 3:00 am there was a massive explosion. it was like a fireball from our viewpoint. and we were still a few blocks from the evacuation zone! it woke up our son. i was at the window taking photos and it still made me jump.
after the explosion a cloud of lit embers blew our way. you could see them fly across the sky in the dark. it was surreal. that streak of white is the light from one of the helicopters.
more texting with friends who lived closer to the fire and relieved to hear that they were still at home and safe. but distressed to hear that many of them spent hours hosing down lit embers as they landed on their roofs and lawn. the heat was intense for them. just after the big explosion the wind changed direction. thankfully. it moved the flames and heat towards the empty space beside it and away from the homes.
by 4:30 am we could see that the fire was starting to die down. Kristian and another neighbour walked down towards the site to see how serious it was. by this time both of the kids were awake and dressed. we were ready to grab things to leave if we were going to get evacuated. it was a relief to see the flames diminish. everyone got into their pajamas again and crawled back into bed. we all fell asleep to the sound of the crackling of the flames, helicopters as they circled, and sirens as they continued to wail. it was still not a restful sleep. even though we all slept later, all of us are still feeling the shock of last night and the tiredness of the lost sleep.
Global Edmonton has some great photos on their website. we learned that there were 21 fire trucks and 85 firemen at the peak of the three alarm fire.
this morning we took a walk down to the site and took in the scene. their were no injuries and no homes lost. the condo was only in the early stages of construction of wood framing. the town-homes across the street suffered the most damage due to the heat and a few stray fires. one has a hole in the wall due to one of the propane tanks exploding and hitting the building. several cars will need to be replaced. a few homes half a block away have melted siding. it could have been so much worse. we have much to be thankful for this morning.
these are a few of the burned embers i found on our lawn this morning. they are scattered in the street in front of our house. i found one ember that had continued to burn on our lawn....all that is left are the ashes. the smell of burned wood and grass still linger in the air.
the irony is that right beside the burned down condo....there is a sign that announces a new fire station to be built on this site in the future.