Officials say Sharp Hill wildfire caused by discarded cigarette
Authorities in Airdrie say that a smoldering cigarette is to blame for a large grassfire in Balzac that destroyed one home and significantly damaged another.
The Airdrie Fire Department traced the source of the blaze to a small grassy area near the intersection of Township Road 294 and Range Road 264.
It's believed that that's where someone dropped a lit cigarette that sparked a small fire. The blaze spread quickly due to the extreme wind conditions on Tuesday afternoon.
98 families from the community of acreages southeast of the City of Airdrie needed to flee the area because of the fast moving fire that broke out at around 4:15 p.m.
No one was injured in the fire, but two dogs that were inside the solitary home that burned down perished.
The homeowners told CTV Calgary that they barely got out of the home themselves as the flames quickly ended up surrounding them.
"We were running, not sure what direction we were going," said David Smith.
He said he and his wife tried to call for his dogs Ruby and Sunny to follow them, but the animals didn't hear their shouting.
By the time the fire was finally put out, it had consumed approximately 20 hectares.
The Airdrie Fire Department urges all residents to dispose of cigarettes and other smoking materials safely. They should never be thrown out of the windows of vehicles or extinguished in plant containers.
Police have not commented on the investigation or the possibility of charges.
(With files from Brad MacLeod)