LETHBRIDGE: With the Boston Pizza Restaurant inferno and the fire at the Lodge Hotel
Wednesday morning, Lethbridge has tallied almost a dozen significant structure
fires in just four months. Causes for the fires have been undetermined in
some cases, while other fires have run the gamut from arson, to smoking in bed
and electrical fires.
The rash of blazes began on November 17th, when Lethbridge Fire crews were
called to the Cheesecake restaurant on Stafford Drive south. Damage was
estimated at over a million dollars. At the time, Fire Investigator Mark
Hoveling said they focused on a dryer in a staff changing area and the storage
of rags, which may have been oily, as a possible cause. He said the fire would
be extremely difficult to investigate, since the entire room where the fire
started was engulfed in flames.
February 1st, Fire crews were called to the Van Haarlem rooming house fire in
the 1200-block of 7th avenue south. Fires set on an upper floor and in the a
basement fire eventually destroyed the entire building. Two women were charged
with arson. One of the women, 40-year old Crystal Joyce Mills pleaded guilty and
was sentenced to three years in prison. 25-year old Sheila May Crow-Eagle has
yet to answer to the charge against her.
On February 2nd, 18 personnel and six trucks from three stations responded to
reports of a house fire in the 900 block of 16th street south. Three residents
had already escaped the building before emergency services arrived, but one
elderly male was transported to hospital by ambulance with serious injuries. The
Fire Prevention Bureau reported the cause of the fire on was accidental and
reminded residents not to smoke in bed.
On February 9th, a house-fire resulted in the death of one individual. The
Fire Department was called to a residence along the 700 block of 11 street
South.Firefighters found a man's body inside. An investigation found the fire
originated in the back living room on the main floor and the death of the
62-year old owner was deemed non-suspicious. Due to the extensive fire damage,
fire officials were unable to determine the exact cause of the blaze. The Fire
Prevention Bureau reminded everyone to have smoke detectors on every level on
February 9th turned out to be a very busy day for the Lethbridge Fire
Department. While Fire Crews were still dealing with the house fire on 11th
street, another call came from the Fairmont area. Three fire stations and 21 men
responded to a two storey house fire at 386 Fairmont Boulevard south, around
11:15-pm. When crews arrived, the house was already fully engulfed in flames.
They were able bring the fire under control. The owner of the home suffered
minor burns to his arm. The initial damage estimate is $260,000. A Fire
Prevention news release indicates the blaze originated in the garage.
February 25th, An early morning fire could have been much worse if it hadn't
been for a working sprinkler system. Fire started in a toaster about 1:17am at
the Willowpointe Condominiums, at 485 Red Crow Boulevard West. There was no
smoke detector in the unit but, the fire was quickly put out by the sprinkler
system. The fire caused about $45,000 damage and one person was sent to hospital
for smoke inhalation.
March 1st, a 59-year old man was arrested in
connection with a suspicious garage fire. It happened along the 600 block of
18th street south, damaging three vehicles and causing about $200,000-in damage.
Bradley Kim Bergman faces several charges including Arson to Property and Breach
of a peace bond.
March 5th, a blaze that started in the attic just before 5:00-pm at the home
known as the Last Chance Cat Ranch in the 3300 block of 6th Avenue South
destroyed the entire home. There were an estimated 60-cats in the home and Fire
Chief Brian Cornforth said about half that number managed to escape. Many were
sent to a local vet for care.
It's expected the investigation into the Boston Pizza fire will take several days or more.