Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated the fire was being investigated as arson, which is not the case. Global News regrets the error.
Several apartment suites suffered extensive damage in an early morning fire in northeast Edmonton on Friday.
Fire crews were called to an apartment building in the area of 120 Avenue and 82 Street in the Eastwood neighbourhood shortly after 5 a.m.
“From the street, it doesn’t look like much but the whole backside of the building — we’ve got three suites that were fully involved when crews arrived,” district chief Brian Williams with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services explained.
The first crew that arrived on scene immediately struck a second alarm due to the size of the fire in the building, Williams said.
“They saw substantial flame and a huge potential for advancement of this fire, and property and possible life loss. So they struck a second alarm immediately and went into mode and did a fantastic job by limiting the damage.”
Grant Schmaltz lives on the second floor of the building. He was sleeping when his neighbour from across the hall banged on his door to tell him there was a fire.
“I grabbed my dog, cat and rabbit and my girlfriend — who is pregnant — and brought them out,” he said.
Schmaltz said he took his girlfriend and pets to his van to stay warm and then went back inside. He has other family and friends who live in the building, as well as pet hampsters, that he wanted to ensure got out safely.
“When we came out there was a little bit (of fire) on the ground, just on the deck. This is the first floor. And by the time I went back in the second time, the second deck on the outside (was on fire). Then I came back out and it was above the roof,” he said.
“By the time I went back in it was already up to the third floor. Lots of smoke in the hallways. It took less than five minutes for all three decks to go up.”
Williams said the fast-acting fire crews kept the fire from spreading. Two people were assessed on scene by EMS for smoke inhalation but they were not taken to hospital.
Williams also said multiple pets were rescued from the building.
“I know our guys went in several times to rescue some animals and so far really good stories on that as well.”
The fire was under control just after 6 a.m. and extinguished just before 9 a.m.
EFRS’ emergency support response team was called in to assist with building evacuees. An ETS bus was also brought in as a temporary shelter.
Residents said they were then transported to Commonwealth Stadium while they waited to be moved to hotels where they may stay for a few days.
The damage is pegged at $1.25 million.
The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
— With files from Chris Chacon, Global News