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Smoke detector saves life in blaze

The quick action of campground staff and working smoke detectors helped save a man when his motorhome caught fire on the weekend.
A motorhome was destroyed when it caught on fire at the Riverbend Campground on Jan. 8. A smoke detector alerted the occupant who escaped without injury.
A motorhome was destroyed when it caught on fire at the Riverbend Campground on Jan. 8. A smoke detector alerted the occupant who escaped without injury.

The quick action of campground staff and working smoke detectors helped save a man when his motorhome caught fire on the weekend.

Marilyn Couture, owner of Riverbend Campground, was at the campground when she noticed an occupant of a motorhome come out of the vehicle’s door at around 10:40 a.m. on Sunday.

“About two minutes after it started I came out and all of sudden it was on fire,” Couture said. “As he (the occupant) came out the door it just blew wide open.”

A staff member had already called 9-1-1 and the occupant — who escaped in his underwear in the frigid -17 C weather — was promptly taken to another trailer and given clothes.

He became aware of the fire thanks to a smoke detector.

The motorhome owner was a regular customer to the scenic campground along the Sheep River just east of town, but resides in the Calgary area.

He was not injured, but the motorhome is destroyed.

Couture said the Okotoks Fire Department arrived at the scene quickly.

“They were there right away,” Couture said. “They stopped a lot from happening that could have happened.”

There was a trailer-home parked near the engulfed motorhome. Couture was amazed it also didn’t go up in flames.

“I don’t know how they (the firefighters) did it but they did,” Couture said. “It was a little bit brown on the outside, but there’s no other damage done to it.”

While Okotokians were nestled on their couches getting ready to watch NFL playoffs, 10 firefighters from the Okotoks Department had to put on heavy equipment and hold wet hoses in the freezing temperatures Sunday morning.

“When crews first got there they found a motorhome that was fully engulfed,” said Pat MacIsaac, Okotoks deputy fire chief. “The occupant was able to escape, but the fire overtook the motorhome shortly after he escaped.

“He was very lucky… It shows the importance of having good working smoke detectors in your trailers, cabins, campers, as well as your homes. It definitely saved his life — 100 per cent.”

The fire department also took measures to protect its own against Mother Nature.

“Cold weather firefighting there are a lot of challenges,” MacIsaac said. “The lines tend to freeze up, the breathing apparatus gets cold, the masks get fogged up and quit functioning properly, and it can get slippery from all the water.”

The firefighters were able to sit in the back of a fire truck when they needed to get warm.

MacIsaac estimated it took approximately two hours to extinguish the fire.

Couture was also thankful for the smoke detector.

“In a trailer or in a house — you need smoke detectors,” she said.

A water tanker from the High River fire department was brought in to assist with putting out the fire. EMT personnel were also on hand if needed.

The fire is under investigation but MacIsaac said it is not deemed suspicious.


Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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