• John Jantak

St. Lazare Fire Department director denies lack of nearby hydrant hampered efforts


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

A single family house on Rue des Sablières in St. Lazare was destroyed by an intense blaze last Friday, November 10, leading to many on social media to allege the lack of a hydrant in the immediate vicinity was a contributing factor.

The lack of a nearby fire hydrant apparently didn’t hamper efforts to bring an intense blaze under control in St. Lazare last Friday, November 10, said Director of Fire and Public Security Daniel Boyer.

Firefighters received an emergency alarm about a single-family house fire on Rue des Sablières at 5:37 p.m. and arrived at the scene six minutes later. The blaze spread quickly and a large portion of the structure was already engulfed in flames before firefighters arrived, Boyer told Your Local Journal.

No fire hydrant

“It was already very advanced when we arrived. There was a huge fire on the left side of the house,” said Boyer. “The roof and attic were also on fire. It was very strong and vicious. Luckily nobody was injured. The first officer on scene was told there was nobody inside. Everyone was evacuated.

“The first pumper truck arrived two minutes later at 5:45 p.m. and that’s when we stared to put out the fire. We have special training and equipment to fight fires even though there may not be a hydrant in front of a house,” Boyer said. Nearby strategic water basins were also used to help douse the fire, he added.

Mutual-aid assistance

The fire-fighting effort was aided by crews from nearby municipalities who sent fire truck water tankers. They were dispatched regularly from the scene of the blaze to be refilled at a nearby hydrant, said Boyer. “We used six tanker trucks and they each have a capacity of between 1,500 to 2,000 gallons,” he said.

“They were taking water from Rue du Puits which is one of the strongest hydrants coming from our water plant in St. Lazare. We have over 1,000 hydrants in the town and we identified the ones that are better performing,” said Boyer.

Criticism dismissed

He dismissed comments made on social media that insinuated the fire could have been brought under control sooner if there was a hydrant nearby. “I don’t think it would have made a big difference. The fire was already intense. It would have made a difference in the way the fire fighters worked because they wouldn’t have had to bring in water,” said Boyer.

“I’d rather fight a fire with a hydrant next to me, that’s for sure. But in the province of Quebec, maybe 30 per cent of all houses have hydrants near them. There are smaller municipalities even within the MRC de Vaudreuil-Soulanges that don’t even have a water supply in their town. They have to work with water from rivers, lakes and reservoirs,” Boyer added.

Family distressed

“We have a family of four that have no home now. It’s terrible for them. I’m sure all these comments didn’t help. It’s so terrible to say the fire department didn’t do their job. The fire department did their job and did everything they could to save that house. I’m very proud of our team. I’m very sad for the family but I think we did what we could under the circumstances,” said Boyer.

Cause unknown

The fire apparently began in a wood-burning stove but the cause may never be determined, said Boyer. “We don’t know whether it was electrical because all the new stoves today have electrical components or if it was something else. We don’t know what started the fire and we may never know because of its intensity,” he said.

As more households begin using fireplaces and wood burning stoves to keep warm, Boyer is advising everyone to make sure they are kept in good working order. He also recommends homeowners sweep their chimneys at least once a year to prevent creosote build-up which could also ignite a fire.

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