Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services responded to a large garage fire Sunday afternoon on 14 Avenue South. The fire was in a densely packed neighbourhood, and required firefighters from three stations (Stations 3, 4 and 1) as well as two fire/medic units to contain and eventually put out. Firefighters arrived on the scene just after 3 p.m., and were initially worried the fire would spread to surrounding structures, said Lethbridge Fire Capt. Paul Wasylewich.
“When we arrived, the fire was encroaching on the structures beside it, the house and the garage to the east,” he said.
“The back of the house sustained some significant damage; so that is where we started. We knocked it down there so we could get into the house and the neighbour’s house, but we did require an elevated master stream to put the fire out because of the heat. There was some volatile product in the garage so we didn’t want to go into the structure. We used a defensive mode (contain) strategy to protect the house and other exposures first, and then we set up the master stream and knocked down the garage.”
The fire took about 45 minutes to put out, said Wasylewich. Damage was estimated at $100,000. The cause had not yet been determined.
Lane closures coming
The City of Lethbridge is advising motorists there will be a series of lane closures and intermittent controlled traffic stops at the intersection of University Drive, Walsh Drive and Heritage Boulevard West in the coming months.
These partial closures will take place in order for crews to make improvements at this intersection. On Sunday, crews ran electrical wire between the traffic signal poles and removing two median poles on University Drive.
Additional partial and intermittent closures will be required until approximately mid-July to finish this work, and other tasks. This will make for more delays for traffic moving through this intersection for the next few months. The road work will include curb changes, new road lines added, new traffic signals, street lights installed and the reconstruction of Walsh Drive from Argyll Road West to University Drive.
Ban on pruning elm trees
The City of Lethbridge has imposed a ban on pruning elm trees effective immediately up until Sept. 30. Pruning elm trees during this time exposes wounds that could provide entry sites for Elm Bark Beetles, a carrier of the DED fungus, which causes Dutch Elm Disease. Symptoms of Dutch Elm Disease may include trees which may not leaf out this spring. In the summer months infected tree will wilt, curl up and turn brown. Leaves on trees infected late in the season may turn yellow and drop prematurely. If you see any elm trees displaying these symptoms call the City of Lethbridge Dutch Elm Disease Hotline at 403-320-3075 or the provincial hotline at 1-877-837-ELMS (3567).
Provincial regulations also prohibit the storage, sale, or transport of elm wood.
Petition seeks ads restored
The topic has created divided opinions in the city all week. First, Pro-Life advertisements were posted to buses, benches and shelters. Then more than 100 complaints were filed via email and social media. Next, the ads were taken down.
Now, more than 500 people have signed a petition asking the City of Lethbridge to re-consider that removal while claiming a “blatant violation of the basic right to free expression that a democratic society is built upon.”
“It all boils down to the fact — it’s not even a Pro-Choice or Pro-Life argument at this point. It all has to do with freedom of expression,” said petition organizer Aurora Bello.
“I believe that the City should be respectful towards every group regardless of what they believe in. I think they should have stepped back and put a little more thought into analyzing both sides of the story. I believe they got kind of pushed into a situation in which they felt they had to react quickly. I don’t believe in any way that 100 emails represent the thoughts of the whole city that’s almost 100,000 people.”
City of Lethbridge officials said Friday that, at this point, they are standing by their statement from earlier in the week, following their Wednesday announcement that it would be pulling “a series of controversial anti-abortion advertisements from city buses, bus shelters and benches after receiving heated feedback from various community members.”