Fire in Spardell Mobile Home Park, March 16 2021. (Contributed)

Fire in Spardell Mobile Home Park, March 16 2021. (Contributed)

‘Inconceivable we are at fault’: Park owners, District of Sparwood clash over Spardell hydrants

Wilks said the hydrants were suspected to have been frozen on Tuesday morning

The District of Sparwood has hit back at an allegation on Facebook that Sparwood Fire and Rescue responders were at fault in responding to the fire at the Spardell Mobile Home Park on Tuesday, with the district instead saying that the inoperative hydrant could have been frozen.

A post made on a Sparwood community page from one of the owners of the park denied responsibility for the fire hydrants not working, saying that park employees had had no trouble getting the hydrant closest to where the fire was in the park to work without any repairs.

“The problem was not with the hydrant or the park owners but with the fire department that could not activate it,” the post reads.

In responding to a fire in the park earlier this week, first responders were forced to abandon two fire hydrants in close proximity to the fire after they did not work.

The post from a park owner, made two days after the fire, garnered significant derision, with more than 150 negative comments.

Hours later, Mayor of Sparwood, David Wilks posted on his own page with a spirited defense, saying that “allegations against our fire department will not be tolerated,” and shared a video showing a hydrant in the park being opened – but with no water flowing from it.

Wilks explained that two hydrants within the park were fully opened on Tuesday, March 16 but they had to be abandoned because they were not working.

Two other hydrants within the park did work on the day.

Subsequent investigation by employees of the owner of the park had yielded evidence that the hydrants were frozen on Tuesday morning, said Wilks, explaining that a park employee had used salt and hot water on a non-functioning hydrant to get it to start working.

“So, the fire chief suspects the hydrant valve was frozen closed and that is why they were not able to open either of these hydrants on March 16th. Note that the temperature was cooler on Tuesday morning (-10) and these hydrants have had a couple of warm days to thaw out.”

Nonetheless, Wilks said it was bewildering that anyone could accuse district fire fighters of not knowing how to operate a hydrant.

“Mayor and Council do not understand why anyone would think that our fire fighters would not use a hydrant that is working to fight a fully involved structure fire or why they would call for assistance from Fernie Fire Rescue and Elkford Fire Rescue to send Tenders if they knew they had enough water.

“All of our fire fighters are trained in opening and closing fire hydrants and it is inconceivable to Mayor and Council that anyone would suggest that we are at fault in this situation.”

The fire on Tuesday led to minor injuries to one homeowner, the death of two pets, and the complete loss of one mobile home along with heat damages to another two.

READ MORE: Faulty hydrants hamper fire rescue in Spardell



scott.tibballs@thefreepress.ca
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