‘Tough night’ for Winnipeg firefighters battling 3 fires in 9 hours

At least six people, including an infant, escaped unharmed from a pair of house fires in central Winnipeg early Friday morning.

Crews were called to a two-storey four-unit building on Quelch Street near Alexander Avenue at 5:41 a.m., the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said.

Firefighters immediately went into defensive operations because “flames were already protruded through the roof,” platoon Chief Don Enns of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said at the fire scene.

Flames rose above the roof of the brick building at 7 a.m.

Four tenants — three adults and an infant — got out of the building without injury, Enns said.

There was light snow and winds from the north at 35 km/h at 8 a.m., Environment Canada reported. Enns said atmospheric conditions pushed the smoke down, making it difficult for crews to battle the blaze.

“We have a strong north wind, a brisk north wind. We’re fighting it from the north side and we’re having trouble getting to the south side simply because, once again, unusual atmospheric conditions,” he said.

Crews worked throughout the day using aerial ladders to drown the fire. It was extinguished roughly nine hours later at just after 2 p.m., the city said in a news release later in the day.

The building’s structural integrity is damaged, posing a safety risk. The city says arrangements are being made to demolish the building.

All roads in the area have re-opened and access to Weston School has been restored.

Firefighters also spent the morning at a house fire on Furby Street, between Sargent and Ellice avenues, that was reported at 12:22 a.m.

The building is considered to be a total loss.

Firefighters were called to a home on Furby Street, between Sargent and Ellice avenues, around 5 a.m. Friday. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

“That was an incredibly stubborn one,” Enns said of the Furby Street fire.

“We could not place master streams into play because of the hydro lines and and heavy tree growth in the area, so we had to go all with hand lines, which created a fair amount of difficulty.”

Enns said two occupants got out of the building on Furby, with no injuries reported.

It was extinguished at about 10:20 a.m., the city said in a news release later in the day.

The city says 10 people were helped to find temporary housing.

Meanwhile, firefighters also fought a fire in an abandoned and boarded-up one-and-a-half-storey building at Alfred Avenue and Aikins Street on Thursday night. Firefighters were at a previous fire at the building on Oct. 9.

Firefighters had the fire under control by 9:45 p.m. No one was inside or injured by the blaze.

“Many of those members that are here [on Quelch] right now, these firefighters that are here on scene, were at all three fires. So they’ve had an incredibly tough night tonight,” Enns said earlier in the day.

The causes of all three fires are under investigation.

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