The CAO of a seniors’ home where a blaze erupted Thursday night said the fire was caused by smoking, however Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS) would not confirm that, saying the cause is still under investigation.
Fire Chief Ken Block said crews were on scene within five minutes of getting the call, at around 10:30 p.m., and encountered thick smoke.
“They quickly had the fire under control and extinguished within minutes of their arrival. Unfortunately, there was a victim.”
An elderly man was found dead by fire crews at the facility at 101 Avenue and 80 Street. Edmonton Fire said it is not known yet whether the death was fire-related.
Edmonton police told 630 CHED that they do not consider the death to be suspicious.
St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Selo CAO Marlene Krokosh said the victim, a man in his late 70s, had lived there for the last five years. She said the fire was contained to a single suite on the main floor.
“Everything in the suite is melted. The TV, everything,” Krokosh said.
“The heat must have been phenomenal. I’m really impressed the fire didn’t spread anywhere besides that one suite.”
The fire was put out roughly 20 minutes after firefighters were called.
Approximately 60 residents call St. Andrew’s home. They were forced outside as a result of the fire, but they were allowed back in a few hours later.
“Whenever you have elderly people, typically there are some deficits or disabilities, so it takes a lot of hands to evacuate people,” Block said.
Krokosh said the residents are resilient and coping with the loss of a neighbor.
“We have some that are very private, and some that are very social and get together all the time. This man was one of the social people so a lot of people knew him. It’s tough.”
The total damage is estimated at $80,000. A restoration crew was on scene Friday morning removing debris.
In a statement issued Friday afternoon, a seniors and housing ministry spokesperson, Kirk Heuser, said “safety of tenants is always the ministry’s top priority. Our ministry works closely with housing management bodies to ensure residents are comfortable and safe. Smoking in seniors facilities has not been banned.”