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Woman says she narrowly escaped apartment fire that displaced 54 people

A Winnipeg woman says she escaped an apartment fire late Tuesday afternoon with nothing but her two cats and the clothes on her back. 

Fire crews responded to an automatic fire alarm at the three-storey apartment building on Toronto Street just south of the Health Sciences Centre around 4 p.m. There was heavy smoke coming from the building when they arrived. 

Catherine Robichaud is one of 54 people looking for a new place to live after the fire gutted the building. 

She was working from home when the fire broke out. 

She didn’t hear the fire alarm go off right away because of her headphones, but a co-worker could hearing a beeping noise in the background.

Flames and smoke light up the night sky.
Winnipeg firefighters on ladder trucks direct their hoses toward the roof of the building on Tuesday evening. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

“I was like, ‘Hold on a second,’ so I went and looked and I saw smoke pouring out of the top part of the door next to my apartment and I heard the fire alarm.”

Robichaud grabbed her cats, keys and phone and got out of the building as quickly as she could.

“I don’t even have my jacket anymore. I have nothing. I lost everything in my home.”

Flames had already spread to her bathroom as she was running out the door, she said.

“If I would have went back inside for my jacket, I wouldn’t have made it out.”

She’s staying with her mom while she figures out what to do next. 

A broken window covered with icicles.
The apartment building on Toronto Street is expected to be a total loss. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

Twenty residents of the block are staying in accommodations arranged by the city’s emergency social services team. 

All residents of the building got out safely and no injuries were reported, a city spokesperson said. 

The apartment building is expected to be a total loss, as it was heavily damaged by fire, smoke and water, the city said Tuesday. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Winnipeg firefighters battle blaze in apartment block

17 hours ago

Duration 0:40

CBC videographer Trevor Brine captures the scene from Winnipeg’s Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood, where a fire in a three-storey apartment block sent flames and smoke billowing into the night sky Tuesday.

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