A dozen families are searching for new accommodations after fire forced them out of their apartments Tuesday night.
“I feel bad for them, my tenants are important,” said Leila Duncan, who handles property management at the four-storey apartment located at 826-7th Ave.
It was shortly before 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday when fire crews responded to the blaze in unit 302. The tenant apparently had left something cooking on the stove and had fallen asleep when the fire started. When firefighters arrived, flames were engulfing the unit, venting out the back patio door and extending to the fourth floor balcony.
“The crew captain immediately initiated an exterior knock down of the flames while the other crew members made entry into the building to search for tenants and to make an interior attack on the fire,” said Fire Chief Dean Spry.
The resident in 302 made it out of her unit, but her pet cat did not and died in the fire.
The woman was suffering from smoke inhalation and was found in the hallway by a man visiting another apartment. He managed to get her outside to safety and she was taken to hospital where she was treated and later released.
But the drama wasn’t over.
A man and his young daughter, also on the third floor, couldn’t make it out due to the smoke and retreated to the balcony. They were rescued by firefighters who extended a ladder to the balcony.
Twenty-five firefighters, from both fire halls, fought the blaze and managed to contain it to the one apartment which was gutted. However, many of the other apartments were damaged by smoke and water, and residents cannot return until restorations are completed. A city bus was brought up to the complex which the 24 residents used as a temporary shelter. They were later taken to a nearby motel to spend the next few nights.
But Duncan is concerned about where they will go next. Many of the residents are on social
assistance and it is believed that none of them had renter’s insurance on their belongings.
“I feel badly for that family,” said Duncan, after speaking to a First Nations man and his wife outside the apartment the next day. “They’re really nice people and they were taking care of their grandparents.”
The fire is also a blow to the property owner who invested a considerable amount of money to renovate the building over the past two years. Twelve of the 14 units had been completely renovated with new flooring, fixtures, appliances and fresh paint. Residents were able to return to retrieve clothing and personal items, but it’s unknown when they can return.