Massive fire destroys 16 townhouses at problematic development in Stony Plain

The Stony Plain fire department is investigating a blaze at the Sommerville Springs subdivision that destroyed 16 townhouses and damaged 14 others late Wednesday.

'It was such a huge fireball that we were getting calls from all over town'

About 28 firefighters from Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and Parkland County battled a massive fire at Sommerville Springs Wednesday night. (Town of Stony Plain)

The Stony Plain Fire Department is investigating a blaze at a problematic residential construction site that destroyed 16 townhouses and damaged 14 others late Wednesday.

The call came in at 11:30 p.m. and "upon arrival multiple houses were fully involved," fire chief Trevor Mistal told CBC Thursday.

"There were massive amounts of calls because it was such a huge fireball that we were getting calls from all over town," Mistal said.

The Sommerville Springs development, near Golf Course Road, included duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes that were in various stages of construction, he said.

There is no water supply to the area, so a tanker truck had to be brought in.

Sixteen townhouses were destroyed and another 14 were heavily damaged in a fire Wednesday night. (Town of Stony Plain)

Neighbours say they haven't seen any substantial work at the site for at least two years, when the town erected a fence around the construction zone.

"I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner," said Melanie Wilson, who lives near the site.

"I think they should just rip it all down. They've had so much trouble there, the buildings have been empty for so long. There's no work on them and it's been a few years now," she said.

"It's just an eyesore."

'We wanted to contain it'

About 28 firefighters from Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and Parkland County worked on the fire for two hours, the fire chief said.

Most of the crews focused on the fire while others were "roving" the area.

"With the wind and the embers and sparks that were flying out of there we wanted to contain it to that property, we didn't want it spreading to other neighbourhoods," Mistal said.

FIrefighters continued to put out hot spots on Thursday. (CBC)

There were no injuries. All the houses were unoccupied.

Mistal described the project as "stalled."

"The 16 townhouses that were destroyed, two or three of them had drywall inside, the rest of them were just framed," he said.

Town manager Tom Goulden said in a news release Thursday the town has been frustrated with the development and the developers.

"This situation just adds to the list of grievances we have," Goulden said.

"Our efforts to mitigate risk and work through the court system to resolve the problems with this area are still ongoing."

Investigators are now looking for the cause of the fire, Mistal said.

Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of a fire Wednesday night at Sommerville Springs development in Stony Plain, said chief Trevor Mistal. (Town of Stony Plain)