A man is presumed to have died in a fire that destroyed two houses, damaged five more and also killed a dog in the Citadel neighbourhood of northwest Calgary.
Calls about a house billowing smoke started coming into the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) around 12:20 p.m. on Friday, according to district chief Innes Fraser.
Arriving at the 800 block of Citadel Way N.W., crews found two houses on fire. CFD called a second alarm and then a rare third alarm. High windspeed and shifting winds caused the third alarm to be called. At the height of the firefighting efforts, 20 trucks were at the scene.
Fraser said due to the intensity of the fire, crews had to pull back and out of the home the fire started in, and go into defensive mode.
“The first crews found the conditions inside the house were (such that) the floors were soft and the fire was quite hot — large volumes of smoke,” district chief Gordon Best said.
Speaking at the scene, Best said CFD had received reports of a missing man in relation to the fires on Citadel Way, but by mid-afternoon had not been able to get in the home to search.
“The floor is so soft from the fire conditions that we haven’t actually been able to get interior crews inside yet.”
At 3:20 p.m., CFD said the man is “presumed to have fallen victim to the fire.”
The home the fire originated in and a nearby home sustained significant damage, preventing residents from returning immediately. Other nearby homes also were damaged by the intense heat.
Vladislav Tyatkin evacuated his home – the one that caught fire after the first home was ablaze – with his parents after calling 911.
A university student, Tyatkin was told the upper floor of his home suffered the most damage. He said he suspects he’ll have to withdraw from some classes as his computer and other school-related material were in the upstairs bedroom.
Tyatkin said he has yet to be reunited with his cat.
“The cat is up in the garage somewhere, which looks fine. The garage looks fine. So she’s probably fine up there,” he told Global News. “It’s going to be difficult to get her out and into a carrier, and then wherever we end up going.
“We’re all here, at least my family, and all of our house, our personal belongings, those are replaceable. But family isn’t.”
When the fire broke out, Ratna Debry and her family were home. Their home sits on the windward side of the home where the fire originated. Debry, her husband, her children and pet birds were all able to escape the home.
The Debry family had slept in Friday morning, her school-aged son Rogan marking the first day of spring break.
“We were eating our breakfast… and he was enjoying his first day off. And right away I saw from my glass door it’s black, dark smoke,” she said.
Debry said she worries about her neighbours, whose house had the most fire damage in the neighbourhood.
“I’m worried about them because I know (my neighbour) has a dog, his name is Diesel. We have known them for the last 10 years,” she said.
Debry said her neighbour had an adult son who was living in the basement, and she hadn’t seen him Friday morning after fire crews arrived.