Kennebecasis Valley Fire said it responded to two fires in Rothesay and Quispamsis on Tuesday as crews faced freezing temperatures and high winds.
Early Tuesday afternoon, a house on Grove Avenue in Rothesay was already engulfed in flames when reported to the Kennebecasis Valley Fire Department.
It was reported by a passerby around 3:30 p.m.
By the time crews arrived, division fire chief Mike Boyle said the house was completely destroyed.
“It wasn’t immediately visible from the road and I think that was a part of what accounted for the fire growing as much as it did,” Boyle said.
“Everything in the house was on fire, there was no saving it then.”
Residents of the home, a family of two, were not home at the time.
“We had confirmed that the occupants were out of the house so then it was a defensive fire attack process.”
It took nearly four hours and around 16 firefighters to put the fire out. The house is a complete write-off.
A second fire occurred later that evening on Gondola Point Road in Quispamsis. It was reported at around 8:45 pm.
“That originally came in as a possible structure fire and was reported that they thought it was a chimney fire that had gone into the roof,” said Boyle.
He said because of the wind conditions, the fire in the roof grew quickly.
The family was inside the home when the fire started and managed to evacuate without injury. But, their house sustained significant damage, according to Boyle.
“The entire roof structure is gone, the first level is destroyed.”
Boyle said freezing temperatures and high winds made it easier for the fires to spread and harder for crews to put them out.
The Rothesay and Quispamsis areas reached temperatures lower than -12 C on Tuesday, with winds reaching 80 kilometers per hour.
“We’re dealing with water, so equipment freezes up, personal protective equipment can freeze up, we have to keep water flowing at all times through the hoses so they don’t fill up,” he said.
“The wind at both fires, but significantly the second one, impacted how fast the fire will grow. If this fire had occurred on a sunny calm afternoon it may have been a different fire than the one we responded to.”
At the Rothesay fire, one firefighter slipped on ice and suffered minor injuries.
Boyle said the causes of both fires remain under investigations.