Blaze destroys Flying Dust home

Fire destroyed this home on Flying Dust First Nation May 6.

Fire destroyed this home on Flying Dust First Nation May 6.

by Phil Ambroziak

Flying Dust First Nation elder Herman Merasty was left without a home early last week when a fire broke out at his house north of Meadow Lake May 6.

“We got the call around 11 a.m. and when we arrived, the fire was totally involved,” explained Meadow Lake fire chief Neil Marsh.

“The flames were through the roof already and progressed quite rapidly even though we weren’t long getting there.”

The fire is believed to have started outside the home, but according to Marsh, the official cause remains undetermined. It is, however, not deemed suspicious in nature.

“We’re still waiting to receive the official report from the fire chief and the RCMP before we can pursue an insurance claim,” said Sheldon Gervais, director of finance at Flying Dust First Nation.

Meanwhile, Albert Derocher, general manager of the FDB Holding Corporation, said once the process of working with the insurance company has been completed, Flying Dust will be looking at rebuilding or finding Merasty a new place of his own.

“We’re not sure how the fire started,” Derocher said. “It could have been a number of things, but it was not because of negligence. This gentleman is an elder and a very responsible person.”

Marsh said the Red Cross has been notified of the situation and was also likely to assist Merasty during his time of need. Twelve firefighters responded to the fire, which took some time to extinguish.

“It took us a little longer than usual because the structure was already compromised when we arrived and we had to fight the fire from the outside,” Marsh said. “Water supply was also an issue. We do not have our own water tanker and have to rely on local water truck contractors, which are not always readily available.”

Marsh went on to say this is a common problem the department faces whenever it responds to fires at Flying Dust or in the RM of Meadow Lake.

“It also happens in town sometimes – there are some parts of the city not serviced by hydrants,” he said. “The best way to solve this is to have a water tanker at the fire hall with a large amount of water on board. This would give us enough water to fight fires quickly. When we have to ration water, it takes longer to put out a fire and results in more damage when it’s all said and done.”

The chief said the department has never had its own tanker.

“It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” he said. “Being able to have an adequate supply of water at a fire where hydrants are not available is a continuing issue and one that’s hopefully addressed by the combined municipalities.”

However, Marsh is uncertain as to when or if this will happen.

“We keep asking, but hopefully it happens sooner rather than later,” he said.

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