An unseasonably warm day in Conception Bay North turned tragic Wednesday after an elderly woman perished in a house fire in Clarke's Beach.
A volunteer firefighter responding to the scene also suffered what is believed to be a broken leg.
Firefighters are expected to come together Wednesday night for some post-incident stress management, said Jeremy Hall, chief of the Bay de Grave regional volunteer fire department.
“It’s going to be hard on all the crews that are here,” Hall said Wednesday afternoon as firefighters continued to pour water onto the charred building, which had been a two storey home with an attached garage.
An elderly man and woman lived in the home, which is located at the corner of Shaw's Lane and Meadow Lane.
An emergency call went out around 10:13 a.m., and by the time the first pumper truck arrived nine minutes later, the home was fully engulfed, said Hall.
The man escaped the fire, but was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. The man's wife perished in the blaze.
“There was absolutely no chance of any firefighter getting in to do any saving of any sort,” Hall said, noting that the man unsuccessfully tried to rescue his wife. Several others also made attempts to save the woman before firefighters arrived.
A fleet of emergency vehicles responded to the scene from three brigades — Bay de Grave, Brigus and Bay Roberts. It took several hours to put out the fire, which completely gutted the centre portion of the dwelling.
Dozens of onlookers stood by as the drama unfolded, including distraught family members, and several cows wandered around the property, looking disoriented.
Hall said the couple survived another fire about three decades ago, though the woman was injured and required surgery.
"It had a little better outcome the last time," Hall said.
Officials with the fire commissioner's office arrived on the scene Wednesday afternoon, and an RCMP investigation is also ongoing.
A police spokesman said he didn't expect it would take long to determine the cause.
Fatalities from house fires are extremely rare in the region. Hall said it was his first in the 13 years he has been a firefighter.
"This is very tragic," he said.
Firefighters on the scene of a fatal house fire in Clarke’s Beach are awaiting permission from the Fire Commissioner before removing the victim’s body from the destroyed home.
The province’s Chief Medical Examiner will also be contacted.
Fire trucks and police remain on the scene at this hour. Bay de Grave Fire Chief Jeremy Hall said his volunteer firefighters will like require stress management counselling after a difficult morning. One firefighter also suffered a broken leg.
Fire fighters have now contained what is believed to be a fatal house fire in Clarke’s Beach and officials say recovery efforts will begin soon for the elderly woman thought to have died in the blaze.
Bay de Grave Fire Chief Jeremy Hall says this was the most difficult fire call he has responded to in his 13 years as a fire fighter. He said the first pumper arrived on the scene nine minutes after the call was made and the house was already “fully engulfed.” There was no possibility of rescue, he said.
Through the efforts of the three brigades that responded, the fire was contained to the dwelling. There is heavy brush in the area, as well as other buildings, and Hall said there was “serious concern” the fire would spread to a nearby subdivision.
Emergency officials are at the scene of what may turn out to be a tragic fire in Clarke’s Beach. RCMP have confirmed that a female occupant remains unaccounted for while fire fighters continue to battle a blaze at a two-storey dwelling at the corner of Shaw’s Lane and Meadow Lane.
The response began a little after 10:30 a.m. and smoke continues to billow from the house, which at this point is practically destroyed.
One man, the husband of the missing woman, did manage to escape the home and has been transported to hospital with minor burns and smoke inhalation. Officials have also confirmed a volunteer fire fighter has been taken to hospital with what is believed to be a broken leg.
More details will be posted as they become available.