It lit up the night and warmed the chilly air and brought down the house.

For part of his course on arson investigation, RCMP Const. Simon Bentley partnered with the Valemount Volunteer Fire Department to conduct a series of controlled burns on an old house on Main St. The house was formerly known as the “Plummer’s Sawshop” but had been derelict for a number of years.

The owners consented to have it used for the controlled burns.

Two dozen firefighters were present for the exercise which took several hours last Thursday night. The fire department also tested an electronic device that detects the presence of heat.

First they lit and extinguished several small fires inside the building. Then they lit a fire in the attic, and following that in the bathroom at the back, at which point the whole house caught fire.

Fire fighters had to ensure the fire did not catch nearby brush or scald nearby powerlines. Near the end, they used an excavator to tip in the walls and keep the fire under control.

One fire fighter commented that in recent years there are a lot fewer house fires. He figures this could be due to better building practices.

During the burn, firefighters were equipped with full oxygen gear and suits and helped contain the blaze when it shot out from the side of the house.

Firefighters seldom get live fire “practices” such as these, due to stringent new rules about where these practice fires can occur.