EDMONTON – Three people were taken to hospital late Thursday night after a fire at a townhouse complex in the south side Empire Park neighbourhood.
Fire crews were called to the South Ridge complex near 45 Avenue and 106 Street just after 11 p.m., arriving to find smoke pouring from one of the units.
Mohammed Mohammed lives in the complex, and first realized something was wrong while sitting in his bedroom.
“I heard screaming for a really long time, and when my sister told me to call 911 I was really scared. I came outside, my whole family came outside,” the young man said.
“I saw a lady screaming and then a man jumping from the top floor of his house.”
While the one person got out of the burning home, three other people had to be rescued.
“We had smoke coming over our unit,” said Robert Peeling, who lives in a nearby unit. “I ran back inside the house told my wife to call 911, came out the front door. There were already two people out of the house and two people trapped in the upper bedroom.
“All the neighbours gathered around and we got them down.”
“Then by then the fire department was on scene, they got the ladders up and we let them know there was one more occupant, possibly two in the house, and they took over from there,” said Peeling.
Witnesses said before fire crews arrived, two people jumped from an upstairs window. Brad Cooper was one of the people who caught them. “They were definitely rattled,” he said.
A man and a woman were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation. There was no update on their condition Friday.
“One other female was taken by EMS to hospital,” said District Chief Brian Lees, Edmonton Fire Rescue, who didn’t elaborate on the nature of her injuries. Paramedics could be seen performing CPR on a patient as she was loaded into an ambulance.
Witnesses said several people live in the unit, and had only moved in recently.
While trying to fight the fire, crews had to call police. The district fire chief said a Code 100 was called last night, that’s when police are needed at the scene.
“We ended up having a person attack one of the firefighters, and so we had to handle that,” said Lees.
Mohammed Mohammed believes it was a misunderstanding. “He ran out and he was trying to help whoever was in there, and the police thought he was obstructing and arrested him.”
“He was shook up,” said Peeling. “He was the first out of the building. From what I understand from him that was his girlfriend who was still inside. He was doing everything he could to go back in and try to get up there.”
One firefighter suffered minor injuries in the scuffle. “He received a fat lip,” said Lees, adding the situation was brought under control quickly. “We called for more firefighters to hold the gentleman down, so everything was good. EPS arrived and have taken the person away.”
The tenant who was arrested and taken away in handcuffs called Global News. He identified himself as Nathan.
Angry, he said he was the one who saved his friends from the burning home while neighbours watched. He said his girlfriend is still in hospital in intensive care.
Nathan said he woke up to a strange smell and crackling sound. “It was like back draft” he said on the phone.
He also told Global News he wasn’t charged and was released from custody Friday morning.
“I was wrongly accused of beating up a firefighter for not doing his… job.”
Nathan, who was once homeless said he doesn’t know where he’s going to sleep.
At one point there were 10 fire trucks and roughly 40 firefighters on scene. Fire investigators are looking into the fire.
With files from Kendra Slugoksi & Emily Mertz, Global News