Two homes go up in flames in Ameliasburgh

Prince Edward County Firefighters were called to the hamlet of Ameliasburgh on Wednesday morning after two neighbouring homes on County Road 19 caught fire. Firefighters spent much of the day on the scene, dousting hot spots. jpg, BI

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AMELIASBURGH — Two homes are destroyed following a spectacular fire in this tiny hamlet 15 minutes south of Belleville early Wednesday morning.

Prince Edward County firefighters were called to the hamlet near the shores of Roblin Lake a few minutes before 5 a.m., after receiving a number of calls reporting the two County Road 19 homes were ablaze.

Deputy fire chief Robert Rutter called the fire a ‘once in a lifetime” situation for most firefighters.

“To have two neighbouring homes go up at the same time is virtually unheard of,” he said hours after the fire was brought under control. “I asked (one of the senior firefighters) if he had ever seen something like this before and he said nothing even remotely close.”

The homes are located just west of Juniper Lane — one a brick bungalow and the other a double-wide-trailer like structure — and were still smouldering well into the morning.

The garage was gone from the brick home and a gutted compact car sat adjacent to where the garage was prior to the fire. Rutter said another car was moved from the other home before it caught fire.

He said it is far too early to pinpoint a cause.

“We believe it started in that structure,” he said pointing to the brick home. “And spread to the west into the other home. The residents were home at both places but were able to get out without injury.”

Firefighters from all three Ameliasburgh halls initially responded to the blaze and were soon joined by firefighters and trucks from Consecon and Wellington. Rutter said a tanker and aerial truck from Picton are always dispatched to structure fires in the municipality and were soon on scene to help battle the fire. Rutter estimated 40 firefighters were on scene at the peak of the blaze. Fire trucks were able to draw water from the nearby lake to keep their reservoirs full.

Late Wednesday morning, with the home to the west still emitting heavy smoke, a backhoe with a claw-like attachment was dispatched to the scene.

“We need it to open up the structure to allow us to get more water on it,” he said. “It’ll make it easier (for firefighters) to ensure it’s extinguished.”

A number of firefighters on scene were able to utilize the department’s new air packs for the first time. The department took delivery of 62 units late this summer.

“It’s great — it’s much lighter than the old ones and has an increased air capacity,” said one firefighter heading back into the smouldering ruins. “That makes it a lot easier to do our job.”

Rutter said the investigation will continue when the fire is fully extinguished.

“Once we’re satisfied it is completely out we’ll be able to start looking around and hopefully find the cause,” he said. “At this point I can’t even begin to estimate the cost of the damage.”