It was an all-hands-on-deck effort on Thursday night for the Moose Jaw Fire Department (MJFD), as crews battled a structure fire on the 300 Block of Thatcher Drive East.
MJFD Deputy Fire Chief, Mike Russell says that crews were dispatched at around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday to a fire in an aisle at a local retail store.
Upon arrival, he notes that the centre building in the strip mall was filled with heavy smoke. Quickly, the smoke turned from white to black smoke and then in minutes the fire engulfed the centre occupancy.
“We had 18 firefighters available, as well as three apparatuses' including our tower truck," says Russell. "We placed the tower truck on the east side of the strip mall and did what we call a surround and drown where we poured water from the top down. The fire did break through the roof of the centre occupancy.”
Russell adds that due to the fire load content, wind conditions, and temperatures, the fire extended to the occupancy to the west.
They were able to save the two businesses to the east of the fire, but the two to the west were lost.
The usual plan of attack when dealing with a fire of this size would be to enter the building and try to knock it down internally and contain it.
Thursday’s fire was a different beast, which meant a different plan of attack for firefighters.
“With the heat, the fire load, and the way it progressed we had to actually use a defensive mode fire attack where we fight the fire from outside. We did a surround and drown with the aerial. We had two blitz monitors that go on the ground and oscillate back and forth. Then we had crews on hand lines trying to battle the fire.”
Now that the fire is mostly put out, minus some hot spots, the MJFD’s fire investigator will launch a full investigation starting on Friday to find the cause of the fire along with taking witness statements of what happened leading up to the blaze.
Russel also confirmed that there were no injuries to emergency crews, customers, or employees of the businesses that caught fire.