Monday, February 12, was quite a day for the North Grenville Fire Service. At 5:00 pm they hosted a grand unveiling of their brand new Rescue Pumper Truck that they had waited a year and a half for. After Municipal Council and local media were given a guided tour of the new vehicle by Fire Chief John Okum and Deputy Chief Randy Urslak, the two were eager to get their new crown jewel loaded with the equipment it would need (from the old one) and get it into service.
They must have just completed their work when, at 7:53 pm, the Fire Service was called to the site of a residential fire at 853 Rock Road in Oxford Station. Initial dispatch reports were confirmed, heavy flames were visible coming from the residential structure which was set back approximately one hundred feet from the road.
Many volunteers were able to respond quickly, as they happened to be participating in training at the North Grenville Fire Service station in Kemptville. It seemed that the entire station emptied, as multiple fire vehicles responded quickly, loaded with a large contingent of volunteers. Upon arrival, crews observed “a fully involved residential structure fire”, and were quickly able to confirm that all occupants had safely escaped the blazing building. A rapid defense fire attack was initiated by the crews, and a request for mutual aid was made as the flames had already spread throughout the single family home.
A family of four lived at the residence, with one member not home at the time of the fire. The male homeowner was able to retrieve the family dog, but it was believed at press time that the family cat may have been unable to escape and may have died in the fire. The male homeowner was taken by Leeds Grenville Paramedics to Kemptville District Hospital for smoke inhalation, but was released shortly afterwards. A volunteer firefighter was also taken to hospital for precautionary measures, after receiving a minor injury resulting from a fall at the site.
The home was completely destroyed by the fire, with crews remaining on-site until 2:00 am. Victim Services were requested to attend and provided emergency shelter for the family. Smoke was still visible the next day at the site, and the home was quickly fenced off so that no one could enter the fire site. The home was confirmed as being insured. The names of the homeowner and other family members were not released as of press time.
According to Chief Okum, the fire service can confirm that the fire started in the attached garage which sheltered a vehicle and an all-terrain vehicle. The occupants of the home were alerted to the fire by a small explosion and the smell of smoke. At press time, the fire was under investigation.