Fire that engulfed 3 houses in Woodbine was an 'inferno,' neighbour says

As an "inferno" engulfed three houses in southwest Calgary Tuesday night, neighbours worked together despite mass confusion to ensure everyone was safe and accounted for, says one man who was on the scene.

Neighbours raced to ensure everyone got out safely as blaze blasted through houses

Flames could be seen from Anderson Road S.W. as the three houses on Woodbrook Way S.W. burned on Tuesday night. (@Jodik9 )

As an "inferno" engulfed three houses Tuesday night in southwest Calgary, neighbours worked together despite mass confusion to ensure everyone was safe and accounted for, says one man who was on the scene.

Fire crews were called to the 100 block of Woodbrook Way S.W.  in Woodbine at about 10 p.m. Tuesday and a second alarm was quickly called.

Crews set up an aerial water attack and worked to protect the neighbouring homes while they got the blaze under control, the fire department said in a release.

Brian Schiber, who lives two houses down, says he noticed the fire just after putting his child to bed.

"I went outside, and it was an inferno in my neighbour's backyard. It was nuts," he said.

"Flames from his backyard. It was his barbecue, I think."

By the time Schiber ran back inside, grabbed his son and came back out, a second house was in flames and the fire was starting to spread to a third house, he said.

"There was a lot of confusion. But we all know each other, so we were all just trying to make sure everybody was out and everyone was accounted for," he said.

Schiber says they waited for more than 10 minutes for firefighters to arrive.

"They did a great job, but they just took way too long to get here," he said.

Two of the houses that were on fire were totally gutted by flames. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

However, fire department spokesperson Carol Henke said the records indicate fire crews arrived 6½ minutes after they were called. 

The source house was completely destroyed, two others were severely damaged, and two neighbouring houses suffered significant damage. Two more houses suffered smoke damage, Henke said. 

It wasn't possible to search the burning homes, but all occupants were accounted for. 

A dog was found in the backyard of one of the homes and reunited with its owner..

Fire investigators are confident the fire started on a back deck, but the exact cause is still under investigation, said Henke.

Brian Schiber, who lives two house down from the house where the fire started, says it looked like an inferno when he first saw it in his neighbour's backyard. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

James Atwood, who lives four houses away from the house that first caught fire, says he heard crackling and looked out his back patio doors.

"It was very aggressive," he said.

"So I told my wife, we have to get the kids out. And we were gone. And that was it. We just left."

Enmax crews were called to the scene to fix an electrical transformer serving several houses that was damaged by the fire.

Atco Gas crews were needed to fix a supply line that ruptured from the intense heat of the fire and a collapsed wall.

Crews were still at the scene Wednesday morning putting out hot spots. 

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