By Tina Comeau
After the initial panic and the initial reaction, eventually you’re consumed by a feeling of helplessness when all you can do is wait for the firefighters to arrive.
And anyone who’s been there knows it’s a horrible feeling.
Such was the case on the Newell Road in Plymouth, Yarmouth County, on Wednesday morning, July 9, after a van parked in a driveway caught fire. There were no injuries but the van was destroyed and the home it was parked next to suffered significant damage.
It is believed an electrical issue triggered the van fire.
Attempts made by those at the residence and by neighbours to put out the vehicle fire before the flames spread were futile. But a fire extinguisher, a garden hose, buckets of water and a plastic kiddie pool were no match.
“It was too late,” said Stephen French who was one of those who tried to prevent the fire from spreading. In doing so he said they obviously stayed too close to the flames for longer than they should have.
With firefighters were on the way, by now the fire had spread to the house.
(You can see a video interview with Wedgeport Fire chief Steve Jacquard here.)
There were renovations being done to a bathroom in an interior area at the rear of the home. The van was parked, but not running, in the driveway. French, who was one of the workers at the home, had come outside and noticed an odour he thought was fibreglass.
“I went back in but came out and said, ‘I smell smoke, is someone burning something?’” he said. He and the homeowner agreed this must be the case.
The smoke smell lingered.
“I went back out and I looked towards the van and thought, ‘Is that smoke?’ and when I walked closer the wheel well was engulfed. We started throwing buckets of water on it,” French said.
“It’s such a helpless feeling when you’re throwing water at it and nothing is happening,” he added.
Two dogs and a cat inside the home were taken out before the fire spread. A couple lived in the home.
Firefighters from the Wedgeport, Lake Vaughn and Yarmouth fire departments responded. They were able to knock down the fire before it spread throughout the entire structure.
Still, the home was badly damaged. Grey siding melted from the intense heat drooped in places on an exterior side or was completely burnt away. Charred, black wood shingles crept up one side of the house and surrounded openings where windows once existed.
Steve Jacquard, the Wedgeport fire chief, said the initial call at 10:36 a.m. had come in as a vehicle fire but when firefighters arrived on scene it had spread to the house and a second page went out indicating there was a structure fire as well.
“It did produce quite a bit of damage to the side of the residence,” said Jacquard. “It did make its way inside the residence so there is fire and smoke damage and water damage to the inside. It did make its way to the attic on the exterior.”
A family member of one of the displaced residents said the couple would have a place to stay.