February 11, 2009
Firefighters check the remains yesterday of a home in Cranston which was the grand prize in a lottery. It's believed the fire spread from a nearby construction site before engulfing the home. (Lyle Aspinall/Sun Media)
CALGARY -- Dreams were reduced to rubble yesterday as fire destroyed two homes in the southeast community of Cranston, one of which was awarded as the grand prize in the Foothills Hospital Home Lottery.
Fire crews were called to the 100 block of Cranleigh Terrace S.E. about 1:15 a.m. after the blaze broke out at a home under construction.
That building was reduced to ashes and flames quickly spread to a neighbouring house -- which was a grand prize dream home in the Foothills hospital draw three years ago -- where a family of three was sleeping inside.
The family managed to dial 911 before escaping and alerting others in the neighourhood.
Andrew Choi, 46, and his daughter, Angela, 14, were asleep in the home next to the fire when someone started banging on their door.
"He saved us," said Andrew about his neighbour, Les Walker, who escaped the fire with his wife and son.
Watching flames lick at their home was a terrifying experience, said Angela.
"It was just huge and frightening," she said. "I was scared that my house was going to go up too. It got close but (firefighters) stopped it."
Walker bought the home from the lotto winners, whom neighbours said moved back to Ontario a few months after winning the draw.
Dick Patterson lives across the street and said he was worried about his own house burning. "All I heard was what sounded like a couple guys yelling," he said.
"I thought it was just a few drunks having a party then I looked out my back and saw some embers floating down and thought 'whoa, it's time to put some clothes on and get out.' "
Calgary Fire Department spokesman Jeff Budai said damage is estimated at $2 million, but it could have been much worse.
"We basically ended up going with a defensive attack," he said.
"We had fire crews putting up a wall to ensure it didn't extend to the third house. We were fortunate there was no heavy winds. If we were looking at the winds we had last week, we'd probably be look at a few more homes destroyed."