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Fire at Westlock Drycleaners deemed accidental

Monday-night blaze will keep store closed for foreseeable future
WES - drycleaners fire
Town of Westlock firefighters on the scene of the Jan. 10 fire at the Westlock Drycleaners at 10115 104th Ave. Fire chief Stuart Koflick said following his investigation the blaze has been deemed accidental. Spencer Kemp-Boulet/WN

WESTLOCK – A Monday-night fire that ravaged the interior of the Westlock Drycleaners has been deemed accidental.

Town of Westlock fire chief Stuart Koflick said a 911 call came in at 7:45 p.m., Jan. 10, that KFC staff smelled smoke — the fast-food outlet and the drycleaners share the same building which is located at 10115 - 104th Ave.

“It was determined that smoke was coming from the Westlock Drycleaners piece of the building. Crews made an interior attack and brought the fire under control in minutes,” said Koflick, noting an engine crew was requested from Westlock County and arrived on scene, but was sent home soon after.

“There is damage to the drycleaners and it will be shut down for quite some time. I’m not a contractor, but there was a fair amount of fire and smoke damage throughout. KFC suffered some minor smoke damage as there was a fire wall between the two businesses which compartmentalized the fire. And based on the time of day that it was noticed … if KFC wasn’t open and people there hadn’t noticed it, the outcome could have been a lot different.”

Koflick conducted his investigation Jan. 11 and said the fire has been deemed accidental. There were no injuries to any staff as the drycleaners was closed at the time.

“I can tell you it was an accidental cause. Based on the ignition sequence in this case, it was a slow, smouldering start to the fire that gained momentum and generated enough smoke and heat to alert people,” he explained.

“I wouldn’t say it burned itself out, but when crews entered the scene it was more in the smouldering, decay stage … there wasn’t a lot of free burning. And that was due to the fact of the location of the fire and the amount of combustibles there. The fire consumed what it needed to in the immediate area and then it went into a decay stage.”

The chief said the break in the weather also helped crews that night — temperatures were in the -10 to -15 C range, which could be considered balmy compared to the previous week as nighttime temps hit lows in the -30s and -40s.

“If it was -40 C there would have been many other factors to deal with. Today we were able to restore heat and power to the KFC side and with it being 0 C today we weren’t worried about the building freezing up,” he said.

For town crews this is the second structure fire they’ve already tackled in 2022 having dealt with a minor stove appliance blaze Thursday, Jan. 6.

“I certainly hope this isn’t setting the tone for us this year,” he added.

George Blais,

George Blais

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