Historic Enoch home in downtown Calgary demolished after fire
A historic home in downtown Calgary had to be demolished on Saturday after catching fire.
Fire crews responded to the Enoch Sales House on 12 Avenue S.E., across from the Stampede ground, just after 7 a.m.
Because the building was in such poor condition, crews were forced to fight the fire from the outside using remote water cannons to try to douse the flames.
Firefighters did what they could, but the century-old home was badly damaged. As such, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) said it had to be demolished.
“We are very grateful to the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) and City of Calgary building inspectors for their efforts to contain the fire,” CMLC president and CEO Michael Brown said. “Our biggest concern upon hearing of the fire was risk of injury to anyone involved and the safety of the firefighters, so we were relieved nobody was harmed.”
The CMLC owns the home, which was built in 1905 by Enoch Samuel Sales. It’s one of the last pre-First World War homes in the area.
Over time, the house became a notorious place for squatters and was eventually boarded up. Fire officials said Saturday’s fire was not the first they’ve responded to at the home.
The CMLC said while under its ownership, the home was visited by site inspections weekly to ensure there were no breached entry points and manage clean-up of any debris or garbage. The most recent inspection was on Jan. 31 when no concerns were found.
Speaking with 770 CHQR Global News Calgary on Monday, Brown said firefighters had indicated to them it looked as though the fire had been started by someone who entered the property trying to keep warm.
“We’d gone through the building and ensured that any material that would cause a fire was removed. Likely what they did is they pulled off a piece of the wall or a hand railing or something. That’s more than likely what took place,” Brown said. “But without being there it’s hard to say.”
According to the City of Calgary, the house does not have a protection designation. In a 2018 report, the Calgary Heritage Initiative supported a designation of the home as a municipal historic resource.
“I’m very sad to see the house go like this, it was a very important part of Victoria Park and the people that lived here and worked here in Calgary’s early days,” Calgary Heritage Authority executive director Josh Traptow said. “It’s an important part of Calgary’s history.”
It was expected the house would be moved to an adjacent property before receiving a historical designation.
“The tragedy of this fire is that we’ve lost the opportunity to realize a new future for the home, and while plans weren’t definitive at the time, CMLC has been diligent in our care of the home for the past two years to help protect it against further deterioration,” added Brown.
“Saturday’s fire is a loss for us all.”
The CMLC said in a Monday news release the remains of the house will be removed from the site once remediation efforts are finished. In the interim, fencing surrounds the house while the site is cleaned up.
– With files Aurelio Perri
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