Late night fire responded to by all three Tri-Region fire departments.
UPDATE- The Town of Stony Plain has released a statement regarding the Somerville fire. The blaze is officially under investigation while Town Manager Tom Goulden also was quoted as follows:
"The Town has been frustrated with the development and the developers of this site. Our efforts to mitigate risk and work through the court system to resolve the problems with this area are still ongoing. This situation just adds to the list of grievances we have. We commend the efforts of our Fire Department, protecting their own lives and surrounding buildings was the right call under the circumstances."
The developer of Sommerville Springs is Elegant Development Inc. based out of Richmond, British Columbia. More details when available.
At 11:33 p.m. last night, the Stony Plain Fire Services received reports of a structure fire in the Sommerville Springs subdivision development and, upon arrival at the scene, found multiple structures already engulfed in flames. By the time the fire was considered under control at 12:45 a.m. sixteen townhouses had been completely destroyed while fourteen others were damaged.
"This subdivision has some challenges- there's limited access, there's no water supply, and just a huge fire load- so we immediately went defensive strategy," says Stony Plain Fire Chief Trevor Mistal. "Our goal was to try to protect exposures and keep it from spreading to the surrounding neighbourhoods."
Due to the various states of construction in the stalled development, the fire was able to travel quickly without many barriers protecting the townhouses- some of which were still just wooden frames. The Spruce Grove and Parkland County services were also called in for mutual aid, as the lack of water infrastructure in the area meant pumper trucks had to be ferried to and from the area to fight the fire.
"The buildings weren't occupied and all in various stages of construction. Some were sided with windows and doors, a couple of them had drywall on the inside, but the bulk of them were just framed," elaborates Mistal. "Once the fire got in, there was nothing to stop it. It just took right off."
Mistal also notes the weather conditions were favourable for the Tri-Region firefighters, as the wind wasn't pushing the flames towards surrounding areas. As a precaution, crews were sent on patrol in search of other fires which may have been caused by blowing embers and ash.
As of this morning, crews were still on scene putting out various hot spots in the area. Once the area is deemed totally safe, an investigation is likely to begin.
"This fire would be considered suspicious at this time," Mistal tells One News.
"We'll commence an investigation when it's safe to do so. We'll be working with the RCMP to come up with the cause and the origin of this fire."