Nfld. & Labrador

'Unbearable heat' at garage fire, as crews contain blaze in 30 minutes

Fire crews in Corner Brook had a busy weekend, as post-tropical storm Dorian swept in and made a mess of things, and a commercial garage caught fire.

'We had downed wires, downed poles, transformers exploding — you name it,' says fire chief of Dorian response

Firefighters battle the blaze at a commercial garage on Humber Road in Corner Brook late Sunday night. (Tara Manuel/Twitter)

Fire crews in Corner Brook had a busy weekend, as post-tropical storm Dorian swept in and made a mess of things, and a commercial garage caught fire.

Crews were called to a repair garage on Humber Road just before 10 p.m. Sunday, said deputy fire Chief Craig Harnum.

They were met with heavy smoke and fire, with flames coming out through the roll-up garage doors.

"Fairly huge building in the centre of pretty much a residential neighbourhood. A lot of concerns — the building housed a lot of rubber tires, a lot of combustible product, and we declared the fire out of control shortly after we arrived," said Harnum.

"Crews made an attempt to gain entry in the building originally, crews were pushed back by heat, smoke, visibility was zero — which is not uncommon in a fire, I guess, but heat and smoke pushed our crews back."

That extreme heat meant crews had to first battle the fire from the exterior, dousing the flames enough to gain entry into the garage.

With the high winds blowing with post-tropical storm Dorian working its way up Newfoundland's west coast, Harnum said, fighting the fire had some unique challenges.

"We had some very high winds still at that point. Some of the concerns was the type of storage in that building.… Commercial fires are ugly fires, and we were embedded right in a residential neighbourhood," Harnum said.

"I mean, we would have had a decision to make relatively quick, if this fire gets out of hand and it starts to put off big volumes of smoke … we probably would have had to look at evacuation."

We had downed wires, downed poles, transformers exploding — you name it.- Craig Harnum

Thankfully it didn't come to that, Harnum said, and firefighters were able to get the fire totally under control within 27 minutes.

"They gained entry, realized quickly that we're not gonna be able to stay in here, the heat's unbearable, came back out, we had a quick meeting on the side of the road and said here's what we're gonna do, and tic-tac-toe, everything went out way," he told CBC Newfoundland Morning.

"Crews did a bang-up job. It was incredible."

What was more impressive, Harnum said, was the fire was battled at the tail end of an extremely busy day.

The garage fire was the 16th call the department got that day. The department also received a call about a vehicle accident at the same time, meaning off-shift firefighters had to be called.

Some of the firefighters ended up working 22-hour shifts with all the various calls coming in, Harnum added.

"It started off at about 12:30 on Saturday night when we were called to our first storm call, a pole fire in the Curling area, and it just kept going throughout the whole day," Harnum said.

"We had downed wires, downed poles, transformers exploding — you name it. It was a non-stop day."

As for the garage, Harnum said there is some extensive damage on the inside, guessing it's around 40 per cent destroyed.

The cause is yet to be determined, and an investigation is underway.

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