Below the article is our full interview with Fire Investigator, Chief Ron Cust.
by Stephen Dafoe
Investigations into Saturday’s $1.4 million condominium fire concluded Monday afternoon. Although left with a clear understanding of what did not cause the fire, investigators found no answers as to the source of ignition that destroyed property and upturned lives.
After clearing debris back to the foundation, investigators were able to conclusively determine the fire originated in what Fire Investigator Chief Ron Cust referred to as a “hut” area on the lower balcony of the northern most unit.
“It has a 3/4-inch plywood material with a poly material on the exterior of it,” Cust said. “They called it a chill room [and] they used it to sit around, rest and have a smoke, or whatever, every once in a while.”
The investigator said that area became fully involved before 5 p.m. Saturday and moved up to a balcony above, where it moved up into the fascia and eaves of the building and on into the roof. “Within 10 minutes it was fully engulfed,” Cust said, adding it consumed the first two units of the building and moved on to damage the other two.
Though the investigation eliminated arson, a barbecue, a propane tank and electrical or mechanical sources, Cust said the cause remains undetermined.
“The exact cause of the ignition is not going to be determined,” he said of investigator’s conclusions. “When we submit it, we submit it to the fire commissioner’s office, and that will be logged in as an undetermined source of ignition for this particular call.”
Although another media source reported a cigarette caused the fire, Cust said it would have been folly for him to offer a cause prior to Monday’s investigation. The investigator said in discussing the matter with media, the topic of other condo fires came up where cigarettes were the cause; however, he indicated at that time the Morinville fire was under investigation.
“In this case we are not able to say there was a cigarette [that] caused this, either on the balcony or in this hut,” Cust said. “What we do know is there was something that did ignite the flammable materials, and it moved through from this area.”
Both Cust and Fire Chief Brad Boddez have been quick to praise firefighters from St. Albert and Legal as well as EMS personnel, Public Works employees and electrical and gas workers for their efforts.
While flames were still rising from the building Saturday, Morinvillians offered to pitch in to help those affected by the fire.
In a release issued Monday afternoon, Morinville’s Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) program extended its arm to facilitate access to organizations and agencies that can offer further assistance to those affected.
“FCSS provides programs and services that are preventative in nature as well as responsive … to promote the well-being among individuals, families and communities,” said Melonie Dziwenka, Community Program Coordinator in Monday’s release. “It is times like these that we want individuals to feel comfortable connecting with us, as we are here to help during these difficult times.”
Residents impacted by Saturday’s fire can contact Melonie Dziwenka at 780-939-7833.
July 16 Update: A reader informed us she and a friend have opened an account for donation to all that have lost thier home in the Morinville fire. For those who would like to donate – just go to Servus Credit Union in Morinville and ask to donate to Morinville Condo Fire. Cheques are to be made out to Morinville Condo Fire. Account will be open for 90 days then will be split between all families equally. They would like the word to get out to as many as possible as well as businesses in town
Fire Investigators concluded their investigation today and the source of ignition is undetermined. Here is Morinville News' video of our interview with Fire Investigator, Chief Ron Cust at the scene earlier tonight.
Posted by MorinvilleNews.com on Monday, 13 July 2015
If video does not appear, click here to watch.