Nfld. & Labrador

'It was too risky': St. Bride's fire chief says ammo, live wires kept crews away

Firefighters had to contend with live electrical wires as well as 3,000 rounds of live ammunition stored inside a burning home in St. Bride's Tuesday.

Homeowner wrapped himself in wet towel, escaped through bedroom window

The house was completely destroyed and police say the owner escaped 'with only the clothes he was wearing.' (Placentia RCMP/Submitted)

Crews on the scene of a house fire in St. Bride's Tuesday night had their work cut out for them — firefighters had to contend with live electrical wires as well as 3,000 rounds of ammunition stored inside the home. 

"We didn't send anybody into the building, it was too risky," Fire Chief Clarence Dohey told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show

He said the community's volunteer fire department was dispatched to the scene around 5 p.m., and RCMP from Placentia had to be called in to assist when the owner told firefighters about the ammunition.

Crews first got the call before 6 p.m. The home owner says the fire started in the kitchen area. (Placentia RCMP/Submitted)

According to Dohey, the 3,000 rounds were stored underneath the homeowner's electrical panel.

"We had to back off a little and we had to wait until the RCMP got there to get some advice on it and get Newfoundland Power," he said.

It is a lot of ammo to have in a house.- Clarence Dohey, fire chief

"It is a lot of ammo to have in a house."

The man told crews the fire started in the kitchen area and, when his only exit was obstructed by smoke and flames, he escaped the burning home by covering himself with a wet towel and climbing out a bedroom window. 

"He was quite upset," Dohey said of the homeowner who, according to police, "was left with only the clothes he was wearing."

The St. Bride's Volunteer Fire Department had to dodge live wires and 3,000 rounds of live ammunition at Tuesday's house fire. (Placentia RCMP/Submitted)

The fire chief said the man suffers from high blood pressure and was taken to hospital as a precaution.

According to Dohey, crews were also hindered by smoke and poor access to water. He said the two pumper trucks went through at least 10 loads of water throughout the night. 

The man is being assisted by the Canadian Red Cross as the fire completely damaged the home and an adjacent school bus that was used by the homeowner for storage. 

"The house is dead, and so is the bus — [completely] burnt out inside."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show