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Resident says she wasn’t connected with city supports after College Avenue fire in Winnipeg

A fire at a residential building has left one resident looking for alternative means for shelter.

The fire struck a two-and-a-half-storey building in the 300 block of College Avenue on Jan. 16. Crews with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responded at 1:05 a.m.

One person was found dead at the scene.

In a release on Tuesday morning, the City of Winnipeg said a transit bus was deployed to provide shelter for evacuees. It also said a team with the Emergency Social Services was deployed to assist building evacuees with finding temporary shelter.

But according to Tamara Bard, one of the residents, the team never actually called her.

The city, in an email on Tuesday, said that there may have been a “chance” where Bard “did not connect with the support staff.” The city further noted that while crews do their best to connect with residents who are impacted, “there are circumstances where that may not occur.”

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These circumstances, according to the city, can include evacuees leaving the scene to “stay with friends or family or shelter with neighbours or inside their vehicles.”

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Bard said she lived in the basement suite of the building. At around 7 p.m. on Monday night, she said she called police after hearing arguing in the upstairs suite.

Police confirmed with Global News that they responded to what they said was a domestic incident.

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Bard said she later called again after hearing more disturbances. Minutes after calling, she said a neighbour came to tell her the house was on fire.

“I grabbed my jacket, my purse, and my dog, and left. I went to my neighbours house and put my dog over there, and watched them put out my house,” said Bard.

She added that she had also previously registered complaints about her upstairs tenants, regarding noise and garbage. She said the company who owned the building, Ember Realty, told her a month ago that those tenants would be evicted.

Global News reached out to Ember Realty for a comment but did not hear back by the time of publication.

With no insurance, Bard is left without a home and just a few clothes to her name. She said she’s relying on family and friends to get by.

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“I’m trying really hard not to think about my cats and everything I lost,” said Bard. “(There were) boxes of stuff in there from when my kids were little. Baby clothes, and all that kind of stuff… (and) pictures of my grandkids.”

— with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg Avenue fire, believed to be accidental, sends 1 to hospital in critical condition'

Winnipeg Avenue fire, believed to be accidental, sends 1 to hospital in critical condition

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