Another fire on central Edmonton block destroys abandoned building

Click to play video: 'Downtown business owners demand better following another abandoned building fire'
Downtown business owners demand better following another abandoned building fire
WATCH ABOVE: Business owners on 101 Street say the city needs to take action and force the owners of a problem property, now the scene of multiple fires, to clean it up for everyone's safety and piece of mind. Sarah Ryan reports. – Apr 11, 2022

An abandoned building in central Edmonton, next to the site of a major fire at the former Milla Pub in November 2021, was destroyed by fire Sunday evening.

Edmonton firefighters were called to the scene near 105 Avenue and 101 Street around 6:15 p.m. Sunday.

District chief Howard Samycia, with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, said firefighters were unable to enter the building due to the extent of the fire.

He said additional crews were called to help attack the fire from the exterior.

At 7 p.m., EFRS spokesperson Brittany Eveneshen said six units (approximately 20-24 firefighters) were on scene to get the fire under control.

Story continues below advertisement

Around 8 p.m., fire crews were still unable to enter the building.

“We’re still unable to get crews inside the building because conditions inside are just disintegrated,” Samycia said.

Fire destroys an abandoned building in central Edmonton Sunday evening
Fire destroys an abandoned building in central Edmonton Sunday evening. Deno Oliveira / Courtesy

No injuries were reported and Samycia said the building was abandoned and had caught fire in the past.

“Always a concern when you have abandoned buildings because it does become targets possibly,” Samycia said.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s notorious Milla Pub goes up in flames

The building is located on the same corner and adjacent to the former Milla Pub.

The property of the former pub had been fenced off following the November fire and debris from the building remained piled up on the property Sunday. The Nov. 2 fire at Milla Pub is suspected of being deliberately set, EFRS said.

Story continues below advertisement

Concerns about disorder in the area

Akram Hasni is the owner of Macarons & Goodies, a French bakery less than a block away from where the fire happened Sunday.

He’s been in the location for about six years and said he was hopeful there would be revitalization in the area, but said he feels unsafe now due to disorder.

“This is not the first time it happened and I don’t see really action taken. The last couple of months the debris is there, nobody cleaned and it’s very ugly,” Hasni said Monday. “It’s become more unsafe.

“Since I took this location it’s getting worse, it’s not improving at all. It’s getting worse.”

Hasni said many of his customers have commented on the feeling of being unsafe in the area, as well.

“A lot of businesses are suffering already during this period but this, it will not help people to come. Every customer I have who come to my business has to mention it,” he said. “It’s still a beautiful city, Edmonton. It’s a great city but the downtown, it’s not really safe.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton city council moves forward with plan for problem properties'
Edmonton city council moves forward with plan for problem properties

Hasni said he would like to see an increased police presence and more efforts made to clean up the area.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think the only solution is to listen to business and to act very fast right now before you see it a ghost place there,” he said. “It’s a big, big thing now. I’m thinking to move honestly, because I cannot do it anymore like this.

“I’m a little bit ashamed to be there right now. It’s shaming my business and my person. It doesn’t represent me or the brand.

“I want to keep positive. Still I believe it’s in their plan to do something but it takes a very long time.”

Sheena Hermanson is the business manager at Stainless Dreams, which is also located in the area. Hermanson said the debris at the previous fire site is unsafe and doesn’t look very nice.

“It just brings a reason for people to go in and try to collect construction material,” Hermanson said. “At least if it was all taken out — the hole was filled in — it would just look like a soon-to-be-filled-in construction site at least, not a pile of burned garbage.”

Hermanson is also concerned about the disorder in the area.

“We’ve been attacked, we’ve seen people screamed at on the street and had to intervene to make sure civilians are safe, and it’s just progressively getting worse.”

Story continues below advertisement

Area Coun. Anne Stevenson said it’s unfortunate to hear news of the fire.

“It’s unfortunately part of a pattern that we’ve been seeing, so we need to be doing more to address this,” she said Monday.

Stevenson said EFRS is launching a pilot program this month aimed at securing abandoned and vacant properties.

“The Fire Act has a lot of powers that enable the fire services to secure buildings, so they’re going to start to exert that authority in a much more deliberate way.”

Stevenson encourages area residents and business owners to share their concerns by calling 311, so the city can track the locations of problem spots.

“It helps highlight that this is an issue,” she said. “But I agree, we need to have more proactive enforcement of sites.”

The cause of the Sunday fire is under investigation.

Sponsored content