Four-alarm day keeps Haldimand firefighters hopping

·3 min read

Haldimand County’s volunteer firefighters could be forgiven for feeling a bit tired Thursday morning.

The department responded to four fire calls in the span of 11 hours on Wednesday, battling flames at three different houses and dousing a car fire in Caledonia.

There was “a little bit of confusion” when the first call came in at 2:45 p.m. about a fire near Hagersville, said Deputy Fire Chief Roger Hill, explaining that firefighters were given conflicting reports of what was burning.

Eight fire trucks from four stations raced to Mississauga Road east of New Credit Road to find a house on fire.

Hill said residents had tried to put out a grass fire, but flames spread to the house.

“It definitely got away from them,” he said.

The house was a “complete loss,” Hill said, and the residents who tried to keep the flames at bay were treated for smoke inhalation and shortness of breath.

Firefighters from Cayuga and Caledonia stations barely had time to wind up their hoses before they were off to another call just after 5 p.m., this time to Caithness Street East in Caledonia for reports of a deck fire.

Hill said residents took their eyes off a barbecue on the deck, and the flames shot upward.

“The grease spilled on the burner and spread to the attic of the garage,” he said.

Thanks to a “quick attack” by two dozen firefighters, the blaze was confined to the attic, though the home sustained some water damage.

The overall damage is estimated at $125,000 from what Hill said was an avoidable fire.

“All they had to do was put a lid on the pot and it would have went out,” he said. “Unattended cooking (causes) the majority of our fires. People need to stay with it at all times.”

Fire crews were back on Caithness Street just before 11 p.m. to extinguish a car fire, with no injuries reported.

To end the hectic day, Haldimand firefighters played a supporting role at a fire on Second Line west of New Credit Road, where an abandoned house was fully engulfed in flames.

Six Nations firefighters were first on the scene around 1 a.m., and as the fire was on Mississaugas of the Credit territory and Haldimand County provides backup emergency services to the reserve, crews were dispatched from Haldimand to assist.

Responding to multiple major fire calls in a single day is taxing on the department, Hill said.

“It definitely puts the pressure and stress on the volunteers,” he said. “At those times of the day, it’s hard because a lot of people are at work. Some are able to leave work, but others work out of the county.”

Station commanders short on available volunteers will call in reinforcements from other stations, which is why some firefighters responded to multiple calls on Wednesday.

“By the end of the day, they were pretty tired,” Hill said.

Wednesday’s action continued a recent trend for the department. A new rescue vehicle that went into service at the Jarvis station last week has been averaging a call a day for car crashes and people in medical distress.

And Hill said the department is busy responding to complaints about open-air fires.

“If you’re going to burn, contact your municipality and fire department to see what the regulations are,” he said.

J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator