Body found after fire breaks out at abandoned building in central Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Community concerned after body found at site of central Edmonton fire'
Community concerned after body found at site of central Edmonton fire
WATCH ABOVE: People living in central Edmonton are calling for something to be done after firefighters discovered a body at an abandoned building where a fire broke out. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports – Dec 1, 2021

A man’s body was found in a burned-out building in the central Edmonton McCauley neighbourhood Wednesday morning.

Fire crews were called to the abandoned building at the corner of 95 Street and 106 Avenue shortly after 4 a.m.

Four fire crews arrived at the boarded-up property about three minutes later and quickly got the flames under control, the city said.

Edmonton Police Service investigators on scene after a man’s body was found in an burnt building at the corner of 95 Street and 106 Avenue in the central Edmonton McCauley neighbourhood on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. Global News

An Edmonton Fire Rescue Services spokesperson said the fire was declared out at 5:35 a.m.

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There was no word yet on the cause of the fire, but EFRS said the Edmonton Police Service would be investigating. Forensic investigators arrived at the scene after the fire was put out.

Many neighbourhoods north and east of downtown Edmonton have seen an uptick in fire calls this past year.

In a six-month period between May and October of this year, there were 281 fire-related events — compared with 148 in the six-month period between November 2020 and April.

The fastest-growing cause is fires that are deliberately set or are suspicious, and fires in vacant buildings and outside are seeing the largest increase in frequency, EFRS said when releasing the data last week.

The fire department is improving its data collection and reporting systems to better track the fires and determine the root causes.

All fire incidents — regardless of cause, criminality or severity — are also now reported directly to Edmonton police in real-time to improve the response.

Click to play video: 'Number of suspicious and deliberately set fires increasing in northeast Edmonton'
Number of suspicious and deliberately set fires increasing in northeast Edmonton

Mayor to look at options

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says he’s well aware of the issue at hand and said the city remains in talks with both the fire and police departments on how to go forward with addressing it.

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“Abandoned properties has been a huge concern. They pose public safety (concerns) to people who live in those dwellings,” Sohi said.

“We want our neighbourhoods to be safe spaces and anytime that landlords do not look after the property and they do not maintain it properly — that is a concern, and we take those concerns very seriously and we will continue to explore options.”

When asked why the city hasn’t stepped in to knock down the abandoned homes, he said there are tools to do so; however, things like that take time as notice needs to be given and appeals can happen.

“It’s not a simple process, it’s a very lengthy and complicated process,” he said, adding it’s a priority on his list and will be looking at what tools are available for the city to enforce such rules.

Long-term solutions to housing and minimum standards for shelters are also on Sohi’s list to look at. He’d also like to have more Indignous-led supportive housing, shelters and bridge housing where community members will be able to stay.

— With files from Emily Mertz and Sarah Ryan, Global News

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