Retirement home fire sends 6 to hospital in Winnipeg, displaces 16

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Six people were sent to hospital for smoke inhalation after a fire trapped several people in a Winnipeg retirement home.

Emergency crews were called just before 1:30 a.m. Thursday to St. Josaphat Selo-Villa, an eight-storey highrise for people 55 and older in the city’s North End.

Multiple 911 calls came in about a number of occupants trapped in the building, on McGregor Street between Stella and Flora avenues, due to heavy smoke in the hallways, a news release from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said.

Callers also said multiple residents with disabilities needed help evacuating.

When crews arrived, they found heavy smoke and flames coming from the building. They helped some of the people trapped in their suites get down the stairs and out of the building.

Four people had to be rescued through exterior windows using ladders.

“It was quite chaotic here, but controlled chaos. Everything, I think, went as good as expected,” said Andrew Radawetz, the interim property manager at the residence.

“The main thing is that everybody is safe.”

Paramedics assessed approximately 25 residents and took six to hospital by ambulance, all in stable condition.

Winnipeg Transit sent buses to provide shelter for evacuees.

The fire was declared under control just after 2 a.m. Crews stayed for another four hours to extinguish hot spots and ventilate the smoky building.

16 residents displaced

Most fire damage was contained to a third-floor suite but the impact has been much wider, Radawetz said.

“The building has suffered extensive smoke and water damage,” he said.

Everyone who lived on the third floor — 16 residents — has had to be relocated, and Radawetz is not sure how long it will be until they can return.

The City of Winnipeg’s emergency social services team has helped find temporary accommodations, with the aid of the Red Cross, but that’s only for 72 hours, Radawetz said.

“We’re working on extending it, because I’m sure it’s going to be extended for quite a while,” he said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take. I guess we have to wait for the assessment from the insurance company.”

Damage estimates are not available at this time but preliminary observations suggest the fire was accidental, caused by an electrical issue.