A fire fueled by gunpowder destroyed one house trailer and severely damaged another late Saturday afternoon at the Spruce Capital Trailer Court.
The fire is believed to have started in the rear shed of No. 18 - 1720 Pulp Mill Road, which was unoccupied at the time, and the blaze quickly spread to the adjacent trailer.
Raven Grant was standing a couple trailers away talking to some people on his way to the store when he noticed the black smoke and flames. He called 911 with his cell phone, then tried to alert everybody in area.
"It took seconds, Trailer 18 went up in flames just like that," said Grant. "I knew the people right behind and called them on the phone to say the trailer in front of you is on fire and then I heard a bang and it blew up."
Grant said the first explosion lifted entire roof of Trailer 18 five inches off the walls.
Geena Grigg lives in the next row of trailers on top of small hill behind the scene of the fire and she knew it was bad when she saw the heavy black smoke.
"We heard everybody yelling and this is a community and we all know each other, so as soon as one person starts screaming, everybody comes out to help," said Grigg.
Firefighters from four halls responded to the call at 4:53 p.m. A teenaged boy and his friend were in Trailer 17 when the fire started but escaped uninjured. Firefighters had to wait for the flames to die down before they could enter that trailer. The heat melted the siding of two other trailers directly behind the fire. A series of explosions followed before the flames were extinguished.
"The initial report was a shed had caught on fire near the trailer but on arrival we found all the occupants out and two trailers fully involved in fire," said Greg Wilkins, assistant chief for the Prince George Fire Rescue Service.
"Witnesses said the occupant collected gunpowder or black powder and we've had eight or nine loud explosions from that."
James Morawski, who lives two trailers away from the fire, knows the owner of Trailer 18, Ross Bradford, a black powder rifle enthusiast who was away at a shooting competition in Hefley Creek at the time of the fire.
"I was sound asleep when I heard the alarms and sirens going off and I saw the trailer was on fire," said Morawski.
"Everyone's saying it started in the shed behind the trailer and I think it was kids playing with matches. We've had three fires in the last two years caused by kids. One was two months ago and one kid burned himself so bad he had to be taken to Vancouver for skin treatment. Last year, we had two fires started behind trailers that lit the grass on fire."