KAGAWONG – A fire that took place on January 28 gutted the garage of a Billings Township couple.
The blaze took place on the property owned by Ian and Vicky Anderson last Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, the couple, whose home is adjacent to the garage on the property, were not in the garage at the time of the fire. Thanks to firefighters, the blaze didn’t spread to the house or other buildings located close to the garage.
Martin Connell, fire chief of the Billings Township Volunteer Fire Department told the Recorder, “we received the call to respond to a fire at 580 Newburn Road at 1:12 pm on Thursday, January 28. The fire department arrived on the scene of the fire about 10 minutes later.”
“Upon arriving on the scene we could see the garage was on fire with heavy, thick smoke coming through the roof, doors and walls of the garage, and visible flames protruding out the back wall of the garage,” explained Mr. Connell. He pointed out the fire department activated mutual aid and with the assistance of the Gore Bay and M’Chigeeng volunteer fire departments, “we were able to get the fire under control. It took about 35-40 minutes to extinguish.”
“Upon investigation we were able to determine the owners, Ian Anderson and Vicky Anderson had been in the house having lunch, when Ian looked out the window (of his house) and saw smoke from the garage building, and they called 9-1-1,” said Mr. Connell. “Ian had noted he walked around the building and at first tried to enter the front door but couldn’t because of the thick smoke.”
“The strong wind conditions (and cold weather) made it difficult to fight the fire and make sure it didn’t spread to the portable shed beside the garage,” said Fire Chief McConnell. As well, it made it difficult to enter the front of the building to fight the blaze.
Mr. Anderson, who is an avid trapper, told the Recorder, “I have a little workshop room in the garage that is insulated that I work in. I have a space heater but it was on low setting. I went in the house to have lunch and when I looked outside my window (about 15 minutes later) I couldn’t see the garage from the smoke.”
Mr. Anderson said he punched a hole in the back wall of the garage with a shovel, trying to get snow in, and Bryan Barker came by to try and help put the fire out, just prior to firefighters arriving.
“It was difficult for the firefighters to douse the flames with the wind blowing and about -19°C conditions,” said Mr. Anderson. “Martin (Connell) had called for backup from the Gore Bay and M’Chigeeng fire departments, and the firefighters were able to get the fire out.”
“There is nothing really left,” said Mr. Anderson, who noted a family fishing boat was removed by firefighters from the garage but sustained extensive smoke damage. “I’ve been an avid fisherman all my life, and I had a lot of equipment, at least 15 fishing rods and reels, all my tackle, hunting accessories and trapping equipment, that is gone.”
“More importantly though, the fire didn’t spread to the (portable shed) beside the garage, which housed a snowmachine, riding lawnmower and other items,” said Mr. Anderson. “Thank goodness the firefighters were able to get the fire under control and it didn’t spread. They deserve a lot of credit for getting here quick and putting out the fire as quickly as they could.”
“The tanning room was at the back of the garage, and the probable source of the fire, the space heater was there and very likely overheated,” said Mr. Connell. “Luckily we were able to get a 16-foot cruise-liner (boat) out (of the garage). He pointed out the Andersons have insurance on the garage, and he confirmed the fire was not suspicious.