Efforts to contain a fire at the Spardell Mobile Home Park in Sparwood earlier this week were hampered by non-functional fire hydrants in the area.
When Fire and Rescue responders arrived to battle the fire which eventually completely destroyed a mobile home, two hydrants within the privately-owned park did not work.
Firefighters had to hook up hoses to a District hydrant on Michel Creek Road, delaying the effort to bring the fire under control due to the distance from the working hydrant to the mobile home.
Sparwood Mayor David Wilks said that the danger posed to the firefighters and residents wasn’t acceptable.
“This puts not only our firefighters, but those directly around a fire in imminent danger – beyond what it already is … when they make the assumption that fire hydrants are going to work, and it doesn’t work,” he said.
“Someone’s going to have to be held accountable for that.”
Wilks said it fell to the owner of the mobile home park to maintain hydrants in the park and ensure they were up to code, though enforcement is a provincial responsibility, and not something the District of Sparwood had oversight over.
Wilks said that regardless, the district would be reaching out to the relevant provincial agencies to draw attention to the incident.
Under the B.C. Fire Code, infrastructure for water for fire fighting must be maintained and be usable at all times, with yearly inspections, including private fire hydrants on private land.
Local businessman Rick Pater, who owns the Spardell Mobile Home Park said the reason why the hydrants were not working was a mystery to him as well.
“It’s the first time they were used – they were only six years old. I have to find out myself what that’s all about,” he said.
Pater did not have any comment on whether the hydrants had been checked every 12 months as per regulations.
Pater has previously received attention for the quality and condition of water lines in the park, with residents reaching out to The Free Press in the past to raise concerns with water quality and reliability.
The blaze on Tuesday morning destroyed a mobile home and all attached secondary buildings along with two travel trailers and two vehicles. Mobile homes on either side of the fire received heat damage, but the fire did not spread to them.
The two residents of the mobile home managed to escape, with only minor injuries reported. Two of their pets died in the fire.
The fire took over three hours to contain after it was first reported around 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, with 25 firefighters from Sparwood, Elkford and Fernie responding along with RCMP and B.C. Ambulance.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A Gofundme account has been set up to support the two residents who lost their home, with a target of $10,000. As of the day after the fire, $4,225 has been raised.
Mayor Wilks thanked the residents of Spardell for helping first responders carry hoses to the Michel Creek Rd. hydrant.
“It was a long way to go back up to Michel Creek Road and bring some water down,” Wilks said.
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