Fire erupts in Kemp’s classic car garage

STARS helicopter airlifts Killarney’s Keith Kemp to Health Sciences Centre with burns, smoke inhalation


A local electrician and vintage car enthusiast is being treated in hospital for burns and smoke inhalation, after a fire erupted under the car he was working on Wednesday evening, and spread throughout the building.

Keith Kemp is currently in Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, suffering from second and third degree burns to his hands, face, and upper body, said his wife Joan on Thursday morning, after he was airlifted to Winnipeg by a STARS helicopter the night before.

“I was talking to him this morning,” said Joan Kemp. “He has two daughters in Winnipeg, and they are with him.”

Joan said she had been up all night after the terrible fire, which could easily have spread to all their other farm buildings, and also to their home.

“Keith was out there, working on a car, a ’57 Ford Fairlane,” she said. “Nothing was running. He was under the car, and that’s where the fire started, and he received burn injuries. He has possible second and third degree burns, mostly on his hands, and the side of his face, and some of his upper body. His shirt protected him a bit. I don’t know exactly how bad it is yet.”

Kemp said she called 911 around 8:30 p.m., and that Keith had tried to get some of his vintage vehicles out of their large garage shed before the spreading fire destroyed them all. 

“He suffered smoke inhalation getting the vehicles out,” she said. “The fire could have spread, and taken all our buildings, which are all very close together, and our home. But it didn’t. The fire department was awesome. The fire was kept to one building.”

Killarney-Turtle Mountain Fire Department Chief Troy Cuvelier said that damage had been done to the restored cars and trucks inside Keith’s shed, and to Keith himself.

“There’s some significant value in vehicles in here,” said Cuvelier Wednesday night at the fire scene. “And Keith is burned pretty bad.”

The EMS ambulance crew initially treated Keith Kemp at the scene, before transporting him to Killarney Hospital, said Joan Kemp. He was then taken by ambulance out to the Killarney Airport, just south of town, for an emergency transfer to a larger facility.

“A STARS helicopter picked him up, and took him to Winnipeg, to the Health Sciences Centre,” she said. “I think he may be there for a couple of days.”

Joan Kemp said the RCMP remained at the farm all night, and that many friends and neighbours had been helping her cope with the aftermath.

“The RCMP have to stay on site until the fire commissioner arrives,” she said. “And I have to be here to be interviewed by him before I can leave to go to Winnipeg and see Keith.”

The Fire Commissioner arrived around 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning, to carry out their interviews, evaluate the fire and its damage, and to make a report of the event.

“We don’t really know yet what caused it,” said Joan. “I know it could have been much worse. I just want to get my man back home.”

GARAGE FIRE INFERNO – Firefighters battle the blaze in Keith and Joan Kemp’s large vehicle garage in Killarney on Wednesday night, after fire erupted and burned Keith, who was working under a car inside the building. Several classic cars and trucks were damaged in the ensuing blaze, and Keith was later airlifted by a STARS helicopter to Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, suffering from burns and smoke inhalation.