Two people displaced after house fire in Milltown, Moores Mills fire chief warns of cooking with oil on stovetops

St. Stephen – A man and his adult granddaughter have been displaced by a fire that occurred on Saturday morning in Milltown. The fire, which started at 9 Murchie Avenue, destroyed the home at 9 Murchie Avenue, and it spread next door into 11 Murchie Avenue. There were no injuries as a result of the fire.

St. Stephen Fire Department Chief Sean Morton said they received the call at approximately 10:30 a.m., and firefighters from St. Stephen, Oak Bay, and Calais responded.

“When we got there, the back end of 9 Murchie Avenue was fully involved, and it got into the house,” said Morton. “From there, it spread to the corner of 11 Murchie. We were able to get into 11 and stop the fire from getting too far in there. Some damage, but minimal as compared to 9.”

Morton said the building had to be demolished, as it would have been a safety hazard. They had concerns that people might wander too close to the burned structure, which wasn’t in a state where it could be boarded up.

The residents of the destroyed building are currently staying with relatives, and the Canadian Red Cross has been assisting with clothing and food purchases. Residents of the other home had to temporarily evacuate, and they are being assisted through insurers. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Morton also received a call about a fire that occurred on Friday night in a unit of an apartment building in the Moores Mills area, but as it turned out, his department wasn’t needed. Moores Mills Fire Department Chief Steve Smith said this fire was started as a result of a resident cooking with oil in a frying pan. The resident was displaced due to smoke and water damage, and is being assisted by the Canadian Red Cross, which is helping with emergency lodging, along with purchases of food and clothing.

“A fellow was cooking with oil on the stove, cooking French fries. He got it afire, and upset it on the floor. We managed to get it out without that much damage,” said Smith.

Smith said the fire could have been much worse, but thanks to the quick thinking of another resident in the building, the damage was contained to one apartment. The resident went in with his own fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the blaze until firefighters arrived on scene. For his efforts, he will be receiving a brand new fire extinguisher.

“He wasn’t successful, but I think he put it down enough that by the time it flared up some more, we got it out,” said Smith. “I’m actually just coming from Fredericton. I bought them a new fire extinguisher. We were going to get his filled, but we couldn’t because it was too old. So, I just bought him a new one.”

Smith said Fire Prevention Week is coming up soon, and although he can’t remember this year’s theme, he said in past years they have pushed a “retire your fryer” campaign. He said cooking with oil should never be done on the stovetop, and should always be done with a deep fryer or other appliance made for the specific purpose of frying with oil.

“Don’t cook your French fries on the stove,” said Smith. “There’s a lot of places have burned because of that. He was very, very lucky that he didn’t burn that whole place down.”

Ironically, Smith said it was just a few nights before the Moores Mills blaze his department was talking about how to deal with grease fires, and they were planning on doing an exercise.

“That was our exercise I guess. We were just talking about it on Wednesday night, and Friday night we get called for that very blaze.”