The Munson and Drumheller fire departments were able to learn from a controlled burn last Sunday, north of Drumheller. Many may have seen flames and smoke billowing from the Schinnour House near the airport on the afternoon of March 1. Previously, the owner had allowed the Munson Fire Department to carry out training exercises at the property and last Sunday they watched the house burn to the ground. The Munson Fire Department, the Drumheller Department and the Badlands EMS were on site.
“It was a good exercise to show the young guys how fast these fires develop,” said Munson Fire Chief Doug Stanger. “It also showed the heat that develops.” Chief Stanger said the exercise was useful on an educational level for the department. They were able to utilize their new infrared camera to assess and battle the blaze. The house was originally built by Charles Urch, but has become known as the Schinnour house. Stanger says while the house was built to code when it was constructed, the wood-sided structure enveloped with flames quickly. “It developed faster than any of us expected,” he said. “We were surprised how much heat was generated, and how quickly it moved in just three or four minutes.” He says while it was an exercise for the department, it can also serve as a cautionary tale for those living in older homes. “It recognizes fire safety. People live in some of these older homes, I sure recommend you have good fire extinguishers, and have them checked. Smoke detectors are a must …if you have a fire and live in a home of this age, you don’t have much time. You have three or four minutes to get out of there.”