SaskPower worker alerts residents after basement fire breaks out

Fire investigators could be seen through an open side window examining the remains of a stove involved in a Tuesday morning fire on August 2, 2017. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A SaskPower employee is being credited with helping residents of a Prince Albert fourplex evacuate after a fire broke out in a basement unit Tuesday morning.

The worker, identified in a Facebook post only as Doug, had finished up routine work on a power box when he noticed smoke pouring out of the window of one of the units.

According to the fire department, SaskPower and witnesses on scene, Doug ran back into the building to alert the residents of other units so they could evacuate safely. He was treated on scene for minor smoke inhalation, but is expected to be OK, a SaskPower spokesperson said.

Kim Bradfield was hanging out in the adjacent basement apartment when the fire began. He was forced to evacuate, along with his grandchildren. Dressed in pyjama pants and a T-shirt, he took the Daily Herald through what he believed happened.

According to Bradfield, who stays in the unit with his daughter, the fire started shortly after the technician finished his repairs.

“He was standing outside doing something, and then all of a sudden black smoke came out of the back window,” Bradfield said. “It seemed to come from the kitchen, in the stove area.”

Bradfield walked around the side of the building to the window nearest the unit’s kitchen. The area surrounding the window was stained black from the recent fire. Investigators could be seen inside, using a flashlight to examine the blackened remains of what was once a stove. Smoke damage could be seen on some of the walls. The front window of the unit was cracked.

The exterior of the 28 Street residence was showed few signs of what had gone on inside, aside from the black scorch marks on the west side of the house and the cracked front window.

Bradfield’s family was unharmed. While there was little damage to his adjacent unit, Bradfield’s grandchildren have asthma, and will have to spend some time in a hotel.

But Bradfield wants to stick around to guard his property, even if it means sleeping in his car.

According to Prince Albert Fire Chief Jason Everitt, it’s too early to know the cause of the fire, though it is not believed to be suspicious. He did say, however, that this does not appear to be a case of a combustible power meter.

In Regina and Moose Jaw, complaints arose of power meters bursting into flames when unusually hot temperatures caused the ground to shift, severing wires.

SaskPower agrees with that assessment. A spokesman said the agency does not believe a power meter was involved. He also expressed doubts that the power box was the culprit, though he wouldn’t rule anything out, as the investigation is ongoing.

According to the spokesperson, Doug the technician had completed his work and was outside the building when he saw the smoke. It was then he called 911 and ran in to alert residents.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. It is unknown whether the incident was the result of an electrical fire, cooking fire, or some other cause.

The Daily Herald will continue to update this story as information becomes available.