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Condos under construction go up in flames in Transcona

Click to play video 'Flames burn after fire breaks out at condo construction site in Winnipeg' Flames burn after fire breaks out at condo construction site in Winnipeg
A fire broke out at a condo construction site early Sunday morning in Transcona, a suburb of Winnipeg, with large flames being seen on various videos. The building burned to the ground as a result – Feb 16, 2020

A condo building under construction caught fire Sunday morning, sending up flames and smoke that could be seen for blocks.

Winnipeg firefighters were called to the Crocus Gardens condo complex on Philip Lee Drive in Transcona at about 5:50 a.m. As of 7 a.m. the fire was considered a two-alarm fire, meaning two standard crews were on scene.

The building burned to the ground.

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Listeners told 680 CJOB that ash and embers were falling nearby.

The City of Winnipeg confirmed crews were on site and asked people to avoid the area.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Assistant Chief Jay Shaw said the cause was still under investigation.

However, Shaw noted, buildings under construction are particularly vulnerable to fires.

“You have different contractors and different tradespeople working to be able to complete [the project]. Some of that work involves electricity and heaters and building materials,” Shaw said. “We say that buildings under construction, renovation or demolition are at a higher risk for potential fires.”

Shaw credited fire crews for their work in preventing the blaze from spreading to nearby under-construction condos and houses.

An artist’s rendering of what the building complex will look like. CrocusGardens.ca

According to the condo complex’s website, the development consisted of four buildings, some of which are still under construction. There will be 232 units when the complex is complete.

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Derek Balcaen of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg highlighted the similarity between this building fire and one on Pembina Highway in December.

Smoke from the wreckage Sunday morning. Greg Mackling/CJOB

“This really highlights the dangers of some of these construction site fires,” he said.

“When buildings aren’t complete, when suppression systems are not in place, when you’re dealing with -35 windchill conditions like we are this morning, it sure makes for some trying and difficult conditions for our firefighters out there.”

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There was no indication if anyone was hurt, but it was still early in the investigation, said Balcaen.

READ MORE: Crews battle large fire at Winnipeg building under construction

Two listeners reported to 680 CJOB they heard a loud bang at about the same time the fire started and that propane tanks were on site, but Balcaen said he couldn’t confirm any specific cause.

“We certainly advise people to stay out of the area, stay out of the way of first responders and fire crews that are working at the scene.”

  • With files from Skylar Peters and Clay Young.