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Duck Lake fire destroys home, but residents safe

Duck Lake firefighters mop up during the latter stages of a stubborn fire that destroyed a mobile home at the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue North in Duck Lake on Wednesday, May 17

Smoke detectors proved to be life-savers for residents of a mobile home in Duck Lake that was destroyed in an early-morning fire on Wednesday, May 17.
Duck Lake Fire Chief Neil Fourseille said he received a 911 text message to respond to a structure fire at about 3:00 a.m. When he arrived on the scene at the corner of 1st Street and 1st Avenue North, the fire had spread from the trailer’s lean-to annex into the attic.
The firefighters were overwhelmingly relieved to find that all the occupants of the home had escaped the blaze and taken shelter in a van.
“The smoke detector alarm woke them up,” said Fourseille in an interview the day after the fire. “All five people got out with just the clothes on their back.
“One resident I spoke to said when he woke up he saw fire in an adjacent bedroom, and the hallway was full of smoke. It didn’t take long for the fire to spread.”
Fourseille said when the call came in, his first concern was for the safety of the residents.
“I thought, ‘what am I walking into?’ At that time of night, you know people are at home sleeping,” said Fourseille. “When we got there and found everyone safe and accounted for, that really took a huge amount of pressure off our crew, knowing that nobody was trapped inside. We were able to concentrate on suppressing the structure fire.”
The fire department responded initially with six members and two trucks. Their numbers were reinforced by a seventh firefighter a few hours later. Three high school students from Stobart School, members of the Duck Lake Fire Department ‘junior firefighter program’ were called on in the latter stages of the operation to help with cleanup.
It took fire crews over ten hours to finally subdue the stubborn blaze.
“The fire appeared to have started in the lean-to annex, although we don’t really know the cause,” said Fourseille. “That is currently under investigation.
“But I can tell you it was a very difficult fire to extinguish; very stubborn. It caused us a lot of problems because the building had multiple roof lines. The fire got in between the different roofs, and there was really no way to attack it directly.
“We would think we had it knocked down, and then it would flare up again in another spot.”
Fourseille said the mobile home had a peaked roof built over the original structure. An addition with a sloping roof had then been built beside the trailer.
“A second roof was then apparently added on top of that,” said Fourseille. “So in the end, there were three layers of roof line.”
The space between the different roofs allowed the fire to spread, he noted.
“Usually what happens is if a fire gets into the attic, you open it up and then you can attack it directly,” he said. “But with this one, we’d open up one layer and didn’t realize at first there was another layer underneath.”
Fourseille said it wasn’t until the daylight hours arrived and firefighters opened up the gable ends that they were able to get a solid handle on why the fire was so elusive.
He said firefighters had the blaze under control early, and that the structure was never fully engulfed. There was no damage to any adjacent buildings.
Fourseille said battling the blaze used up a lot of water, but thanks to the town’s new water treatment system, there was sufficient capacity to handle the emergency.
He said the incident underlines the necessity of smoke detectors in working condition.
“It could have been a terrible tragedy,” said Fourseille. “I can’t emphasize enough how important smoke detectors are.”
The weekend before the fire, the Duck Lake Fire Department held an open house and barbecue at the fire hall. Equipment purchased using the proceeds of the department’s annual quad raffle was on display at the event.

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