Several people, including one firefighter, were taken to hospital and dozens were forced from their homes when a fire broke out at an apartment building in west Edmonton on Wednesday night.
The fire started just after 8 p.m. at a four-storey building near 182 Street and 95 Avenue.
Crews arrived just minutes after receiving the call, but flames were already spreading rapidly throughout the building.
“Some heavy smoke (was) showing from multiple sources,” district chief Malcolm Hills said Thursday morning.
Upwards of 30 firefighters were at the scene Wednesday night as the entire building was evacuated. The fire was under control just before 9 p.m. and declared out at 9:40 p.m. Black smoke was noticed shortly after the fire was declared out, but EFRS said crews dealt with it and it was very minor.
At 10:48 p.m., Hills said there was an explosion.
“They figured the explosion was actually the elevator that fell down through the elevator shaft,” he said.
EFRS said it did not have any further information about the elevator shaft explosion.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services tells Global News there is “extensive structural damage” to the top three floors. There is also heavy water damage on the main floor, ERFS said.
Buses were brought in to help people stay warm and emergency services helped 14 residents find a hotel to stay at, while others managed to stay with family or friends.
Monikah Bradley and Eric Bilan live in the building. Bradley was at work when the fire broke out but Bilan was home. He said he heard the fire alarm go off around 8 p.m.
“I thought it was just a drill. Just looked outside and there was smoke coming out. I wasn’t expecting that but I just packed up the dog and left,” he said.
“Just waited downstairs. Thank God I had a friend who came and picked me up. I thought it was just going to be an hour thing but five hours later, it was still going.”
- First home savings account: Banks say they’re not ready for an April 1 launch
- Tory motion fails after Katie Telford agrees to testify on foreign interference
- Canada’s bank deposit insurance limits being reviewed after SVB collapse, trade group says
- Canadian MPs voicing concern over Punjab internet crackdown receive ‘harsh’ responses
Bradley came home a little while later.
“I saw a unit just go bust up in flames. It was just very traumatizing,” she said.
“It’s super sad. I loved this building and it’s so upsetting. The people in there are so nice and just sweet people. So it’s so devastating just to see their homes like this.”
The pair will stay with Bradley’s parents until they have a better idea of what will happen with their home. They said they haven’t been able to get back inside the building, but believe their unit was not too badly damaged.
“It sounds like it didn’t hit us that hard. We were just at the very end. The unit beside us is just ruined. We got lucky, thankfully,” Bradley said. “Everything can be replaced, at least.”
“There were some people hospitalized, so prayers go out to them,” Bilan said. “I feel bad for the families and everyone that lost their homes.”
Fire crews initially said four people were taken to hospital, but Alberta Health Services said EMS took five people to hospital.
AHS said a man in his 30s was taken to hospital in critical, life-threatening condition. Another man, also in his 30s, was transported to hospital in serious, potentially life-threatening condition.
A woman in her 60s was taken to hospital in serious but stable condition. A woman in her 30s was in serious, non-life-threatening condition. A man in his 50s was transported to hospital in stable, non-life-threatening condition, AHS said.
Fire crews remained at the scene Thursday morning dealing with hot spots.
There is no damage estimate or information about the cause.