Details are few but witnesses confirm first responders raced to the scene of a reported explosion and subsequent fire with smoke visible in West Ferris around 8:15 p.m., Thursday.
North Bay Police Service officers arrived in several vehicles and headed to the back of a deep lot on Lake Nipissing armed with fire extinguishers. North Bay Fire crews from all three stations arrived on the scene in minutes and joined together three 100-foot hoses to fight the structure fire at a home far removed from the roadway in the 100 block of Campbell Avenue.
North Bay Fire Platoon Chief Mike Hives reports the damage is extensive but no injuries were sustained by the two property owners who were home at the time of the incident. Hives says the early investigation points to a mishap on the street-side porch involving a propane burner used for cooking sap for maple syrup. Luckily, the homeowners were on the other side of their home when the explosion occurred, in turn catching the house on fire.
"En route, it came in as a possible house explosion so we expedited our response," says Hives. "On scene, it was discovered they were boiling sap on the porch and that appears to be how the fire started," and the blast was likely propane-related. "Either the sap overflowed or the hose let go on the propane tank," was Hives' preliminary assessment.
Hives says the homeowner was able to knock down the flames quite a bit with his own hose before the fire crews took over. Firefighters probed the structure once the flames had been extinguished, searching for flames hidden in the frame of the house.
"The porch is destroyed," says Hives, leading him to estimate damages in the neighbourhood of $80,000, pending further investigation.
Hives adds the owners were protected from the explosion because they were on the lakeside of their home. "They were on the other side watching the sunset."