Strong winds make fire at Edmonton commercial building a challenge to fight

A structure fire at 106 Ave and 116 St. in Edmonton on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Wes Rosa, Global News

Firefighters were called to a structure fire at 105 Avenue and 116 Street shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday.

Crews arrived on scene at 11:07 a.m. to a working structure fire at a commercial building.

A spokesperson for Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said there were no reported injuries.

However, two people were removed from the building and assessed on scene by EMS. They were not transported to hospital.

Several factors made this fire a stubborn one, Station Capt. Brian Williams said.

“There’s multi, multi rooms, there’s some safety issues we’re dealing with, and as everybody’s aware, it’s very, very high winds, making fire attack rather difficult and, at times, dangerous.

“We have some structural integrity that we’re also concerned about so firefighter safety, as well as public safety — we’re really being cautious. And to also aid in the investigation on this as well, we’re just being cautious,” Williams said.

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When crews arrived, the fire was fully involved on the west side of the building, he said, where the two people were.

“As the night continues, we’ll make sure this fire is out and in accordance with safety. But at this time, we’ve adopted a defensive attack just because it’s very, very unsafe — possibility of structural collapse,” Williams said.

Drivers were being asked to avoid the area to give crews space to work. Water from the firefight is freezing and causing icy conditions.

A structure fire at 106 Ave and 116 St. in Edmonton on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Wes Rosa, Global News

Michelle Brewer heard sirens shortly after 11 a.m.

“Smoke was coming from the building,” she said. “It didn’t seem like a lot, it didn’t seem like dark smoke at first, but then more and more fire trucks came and within about an hour, there were flames licking out of the roof.”

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Brandy Barranoik lives on the fifth floor of the building next door.

“I checked it out from my balcony… watched the roof cave in. It looks like they have it under control,” she said later Wednesday afternoon.

“Initially it was just a tiny flame through the roof… it just turned into a giant hole in the roof… From up there, there is a very big hole in that roof now.”

Barranoik said it looked like the building was destroyed.

“I’m hoping they’ll tear it down now because this is the second fire in the last 12 months. It’s been boarded up and vacant.”

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