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Fire and icy showers

Chris Hunsley
Northern News Services

Norman Wells (July 11/05) - Shooting flames and cold showers marked the end of the Canada Day long weekend for some Norman Wells residents after some problems with propane.

"We didn't have any explosions, that's for sure, but we were concerned about it," town manager Alec Simpson said after. A temporary supply of propane that replaced natural gas while Imperial Oil made upgrades to its distribution system was improperly mixed, resulting in "flare ups," he said.

Pilot lights tripled in size, and were blamed for a fire in an apartment, said Simpson.

The distribution system, which supplies heating fuel to half the town, had to be shut down.

Heat and hot water were not restored until Tuesday.

"It was a considerable inconvenience for our residents," said Simpson.

Apartment fire

One tenant in a four-unit apartment building has still homeless Thursday after the water heater in the adjoining mechanical room caught fire Sunday.

The floor of the mechanical room was burned and there was some smoke damage to the apartment unit, said Mop Miller, property manager.

Two neighbours who noticed smoke in the apartment building used fire extinguishers to control the blaze until firefighters reached the scene.

Miller could not say how long it would be before the tenant could move back in.

Three other units in the apartment block were not affected. Fire Chief Al Kuyten estimated the damage in the fire at $2,000-$3,000.

Could have been worse

"That fire was pretty small, but I guess there was the potential to be bigger," said Kuyten.

Two other residents notified the department of soot residue on the outside of their hot water heaters, he said.

Norman Wells will continue to use propane until July 17 when the natural gas supply returns.

Simpson said he won't consider if the community will seek damages from the propane supplier until an investigation is complete.

Asked if he was concerned about more fires, Miller said:

"I think they've got it under control now."