A building on Main Street in Winnipeg has been severely damaged by a fire that forced closure of the road to traffic.
On Saturday morning, fire crews went to a two-storey commercial and residential, mixed-use building in the 800 block of Main Street after receiving multiple reports about a fire.
When crews arrived on the scene, they were confronted with heavy smoke and flames coming from the building.
The occupants of the building had self-evacuated and one person was taken to the hospital in stable condition after being assessed by paramedics.
Due to the condition of the building and the risk of collapse, crews fought the fire from the outside using handlines and arial ladder trucks to apply water to the blaze.
Firefighting operations are ongoing and crews are monitoring conditions in the neighbouring buildings, including the adjacent high-rise apartment block.
The potential for high-life hazards when dealing with a high-rise led to a second alarm being called and more crews arrived on the scene.
Due to the drifting smoke, crews began the process of evacuating the high-rise in an orderly manner as a precaution.
“This one here presented a unique issue with having a 12 storey high rise building right next to it, and with that structure perhaps filling with smoke, and perhaps hundreds of occupants being affected by that.” says Don Enns, Platoon Chief, Winnipeg Fire Department.
Winnipeg Transit has deployed buses to the scene to shelter evacuees and the City of Winnipeg’s Emergency Social Services team will be assisting displaced residents in finding temporary accommodations.
Nearby residents expressed their concern for those who had been displaced.
“It’s sad to see the people that live there. Where are they going to go if it gets cold again, you know?” says Geraldine Traverse, Austin Street resident.
And for nearby shop owner Tyson Romaniuk the fire brought back memories.
“About a month after we moved here, there was a building that burnt down right beside me, last week this one burnt down behind me, and now we have another one across the street. It just seems like it’s just about once a week, if not once a month thing around here.” he says.
And just a block away, on February 11 a fire destroyed three businesses and damaged an apartment block which has left Romaniuk always expecting the worst.
“I’m always watching my cameras. like even when i see fire trucks outside, it’s like okay, what’s next.”
As of 10 a.m. Main Street was closed for all traffic between Higgins Avenue and Dufferin Avenue.
And around 8 p.m. the street reopened to southbound traffic. Northbound traffic will remain impacted until all crews leave the scene. Drivers are reminded that driving over a firehose is an offence under the Highway Traffic Act.
Residents evacuated from the high-rise apartment building were able to return to their suites earlier Sunday afternoon.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage estimates are not available; however, the building will be a complete loss.
–With files from Global’s Iris Dyck