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Smoking caused north Edmonton apartment fire: investigators

Smoking caused north Edmonton apartment fire: investigators
WATCH ABOVE: Fire investigators determined a fire that broke out early Wednesday morning at a north Edmonton apartment building was the result of improperly discarded smoking materials. Nicole Stillger reports.

Investigators have determined a fire that broke out early Wednesday morning at a north Edmonton apartment building in the Beaumaris neighbourhood was the result of a resident improperly discarding smoking materials.

Edmonton Fire Rescue Services was called to the building at 104 Street and 155 Avenue at 7:13 a.m., and arrived on scene four minutes later to find smoke and flames coming from the roof of the apartment.

The fire was brought until control by 7:30 a.m. and was fully extinguished by 8:14 a.m., according to officials.

Crews were able to contain the fire to two units on the west side of the building’s third floor.

Investigators said Wednesday afternoon that the fire had started on one of the involved suites’ balconies and was related to smoking materials.

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‘It was a little bit crazy’

One resident said it’s not uncommon for alarms to sound off in the building, without fires, so Amy Teasdale opened her apartment door to look.

“I smelled something,” Teasdale said.

“I came outside the back door and saw the flames, so I panicked a bit, ran back in tried to get the cats and everything and get everybody out — and screamed so the other neighbours would know it wasn’t a false alarm.”

Once safely evacuated, Teasdale said she heard an explosion — likely from a propane tank.

“The flames were pretty big at that point it looked like they were going to go down to the floor below that.”

She said they were allowed back in their suites later Wednesday morning.

“I’m surprised they let us in so early,” she said.

“I realized it was pretty major when I saw the bathroom door. The smoke was pouring out our ceiling and it looked like liquid it was pouring in there… now I’m just cleaning out the bathroom and stuff everything is coated in the back half of my unit.”

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Right place, right time

Susan Harrison and her German shepherd, Athena, were out for a walk in the area when they saw the black smoke.

After calling 911, she, along with another man who happened to be there, knocked on a side door until someone answered.

Harrison told Global News she asked the woman who came to the door if the the fire alarms were going off.

“She said yes, but they are very quiet,” Harrison explained. “No one was moving out of the building.”

Harrison knocked on people’s patio doors and windows to help wake them up.

“Rattled everything up and yelled ‘fire, fire,'” she said. “People came out very slowly, quite disorientated. Most people were in awe when they did see the flames.”

“There were quite a few people in shock and disbelief.”

Susan Harrison and her German shepherd, Athena.
Susan Harrison and her German shepherd, Athena. Courtesy: Ken Harrison
Flames shoot out of an apartment building in the Beaumaris neighbourhood.
Flames shoot out of an apartment building in the Beaumaris neighbourhood. Courtesy: Ken Harrison

Harrison’s said her 10-month-old pup was also critical in helping alert residents.

“She was brilliant,” Harrison said.

“She did her barking and she helped corral people in the right direction.”

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Harrison previously worked as a social worker with the Canadian Forces — her son is also in the military — now she’s an educational assistant with Edmonton Catholic.

She said fire training is common for people in the Department of National Defence.

Fire Damages

Damage is estimated at $350,000, with $300,000 linked to the structure and $50,000 to belongings inside.

Some suites below the two that had been involved also suffered water damage.

Crews on scene following a north Edmonton apartment fire on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.
Crews on scene following a north Edmonton apartment fire on Wednesday, May 13, 2020.
Investigators remained on scene after the fire was extinguished and are working to investigate the cause.
Investigators remained on scene after the fire was extinguished and are working to investigate the cause. Global News

There was visible damage to the building’s roof and walls.

Residents are being assisted by their insurance companies.