A commercial building in east Edmonton was destroyed by fire Monday morning.
Just after 9 a.m., crews were called to a fire at a long strip mall building in the area of 95 Avenue and 49 Street.
Forty-four firefighters and 11 apparatus were at the scene.
“Driving down the road, they struck a second alarm because there was so much black smoke coming from the industrial strip mall,” Edmonton Fire Rescue Services district chief Todd Weiss said.
“When the first arriving apparatus came on scene and took command, it was fully involved. And within probably half an hour, the fire was coming out all the back doors, in the back garage doors, overhead doors, and not soon after, it collapsed.
“It actually collapsed quite fast.”
Weiss said the front and back of the building collapsed at 9:48 a.m. Shortly after, the left side of the building also collapsed. Weiss said the right side of the building was still standing.
Everyone was able to make it out of the buildings safely, Weiss said. No injuries were reported.
“We didn’t have to rescue anybody. They all came out at the start of the fire and they were accounted for by the foreman of the jobsite for that particular crew.”
The building where the fire started was under construction, Weiss said. The building was built in 2001.
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Josh Saathof and Jesse Ellis work at the construction site. They were driving up to the building to start their day when they saw the smoke and flames.
“We showed up, it was engulfed in flames. We sat here and we watched the whole thing just crumble,” Saathof said.
“It was pretty wild. We weren’t expecting that when we came in,” Ellis added.
Ellis called it “a close call,” saying they were picking up lumber, otherwise they might have been inside working on the building when the fire started.
Both men said the building was vacant and wasn’t in the best condition.
“It just basically had just the structure of it. There was weeds growing up from the ground and stuff. There wasn’t even concrete laid,” Saathof said.
“You could put your hand through the walls,” Ellis said.
There is no word yet on the cause of the fire.
“It’s going to be a very difficult investigation because of the collapse and it made things 10 times more difficult to determine cause,” Weiss said.
“The building’s a total loss, absolutely.”
A portion of 50 Street northbound was blocked off around 10 a.m. so fire crews could do their work.
Fire crews anticipate being on scene well into Monday afternoon.