EDMONTON – The Edmonton Fire Department determined that a garage fire in Mill Woods that left two people dead and another seriously injured Monday was accidental.
A neighbour called 911 around 6:40 p.m. after seeing flames coming from the two-vehicle garage in the area of 34 Ave. & Lee Ridge Road. When fire crews arrived, they found a detached garage engulfed in flames.
Shauna Skrepnyk, who lives across the street, came outside to see sparks flying over her garage and neighbours’ trees.
“It was just an unbelievable sight…I don’t know if words can describe it,” she said.
“I just opened the back door and saw all this billowing smoke and just gut-wrenching, heartbreaking to see.”
The 26 firefighters who battled the blaze managed to get it under control in about 40 minutes, and keep it contained to the garage.
“Once the crews had an opportunity and had things knocked down fairly quickly,” said District Chief Dennis Hushagen, “they discovered two deceased in the garage.”
A man and a woman were killed in the fire. Their names will not be released until family members have been notified.
A third individual, a man, was rushed to the University of Alberta hospital in critical condition, suffering third-degree burns.
“The other two didn’t make it out as the path to the outside door was blocked by flames,” said Wayne Palowski, Chief of Edmonton Fire and Rescue investigations.
Investigators have determined that an explosion occurred inside the garage when an open flame from a propane-fuelled heater ignited a gasoline air-vapour mixture. Officials say this occurred after a gasoline tank was removed from a vehicle, falling to the ground and spilling gasoline.
“The occupants were in there doing some repair work to one of the vehicles. When they lowered the fuel tank, gasoline spilled out, and they had an open fire propane heater that ignited the gasoline vapours,” explained Palowski.
“People need to be aware of just how dangerous flammable liquids are,” said Fire Marshal Tom Karpa.
“It was the practice that was very unsafe. That should have been done in a commercial garage, perhaps, or the tank completely emptied, and then still no sources of ignition.”
The fire caused about $85,000 in damage.