Two house fires 10 minutes apart caused significant damage and put a strain on Waterloo Region fire resources Thursday afternoon.

The first call came in at about 1:30 p.m. from an address on Northumberland Street near Cedar Creek Road in Ayr. A person driving by the area noticed the smoke and dialed 911.

A second fire was reported a few minutes later at a two-storey foster home on Snyders Road East in Petersburg.

Both buildings were completely destroyed.

In Ayr, a large house was engulfed by a fire that eventually saw flames shooting from the roof. Firefighters were brought in from New Dundee, Cambridge and Paris to assist in putting out the fire.

Officials estimate the damage to the home at about $1 million. Nobody was inside the house at the time of the fire.

In Petersburg, crews were brought in from Baden and New Hamburg. As tankers from those departments ran low on water, Waterloo, Kitchener and St. Clements trucks were called in for aid.

All in all, more than 30 firefighters were at the scene, battling the fire as well as the elements. Cold weather presented an obstacle by occasionally freezing fire hoses.

The house was a care home owned by Morningstar Family Ministries, an organization which provides foster care for children.

Four children and two parents can stay in the house at any one time, but fire officials say nobody was home when the fire struck.

“There appears not to have been anyone home at the time,” said Wilmot fire chief John Ritz.

Morningstar executive director Carmen Ferber says the organization will be looking to rent a new four- or five-bedroom home for the displaced tenants.

"As with anyone, when you lose all your things, it's very tragic," she told CTV.

A damage estimate for the Petersburg fire and causes of each fire were not immediately available.

Fire crews expected to be at both locations through Thursday night.