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Residents of a Calgary apartment, evacuated because of a carbon monoxide leak, are taking shelter in Calgary buses sent to the scene to keep them out of the cold. (CBC)

Hundreds of people were not allowed to go home Wednesday night due to a carbon monoxide leak at their southwest Calgary apartment building.

More than 300 residents from forced to evacuate Wednesday morning in –30 C weather.

The Calgary Fire Department received a call around 4:30 a.m. MT Wednesday and dozens of fire crews responded, along with emergency service crews and police.

Fire department duty battalion chief Don Huska said there are two issues in the building — the level of carbon monoxide and water in the basement.

It's suspected that motorized pumps being used in the basement to remove water that seeped into the parkade from the Bow River is the source of the carbon monoxide.

Residents were told Wednesday night that they could be escorted into the building to grab some belongings, but they would not be allowed to stay.

Calgary Transit buses were called to help keep the residents of 1108 Sixth Ave. S.W. warm in the bitter cold.

Liliana Johnson didn't expect to spend her Wednesday morning sitting on an emergency transit bus with her two young girls, but her family had no choice as carbon monoxide was leaking into their apartment.

"About 6 o' clock they started banging on the doors," she said, adding her kids were a little freaked out. "I was like, 'What's crashing?' We didn't know what was going on. They were like, 'You gotta get out,' and that's what we did."

Residents were originally expected to be kept out of their homes for three to four hours. In a midday update, officials said they were waiting to get electrical pumps to clear out the water.

A temporary shelter was set up at the nearby Kerby Centre.

"We are a partner with the City of Calgary for these kinds of situations," said Luanne Whitmarsh, Kerby Centre CEO.

Whitmarsh said a call came in at 6:15 a.m., and since then they have been working to accommodate the displaced residents.

"Residents received hot coffee, tea, toast, egg and some fruit," she said. "The people who are managing the building situation — they came over and gave a speech. So everyone's fine."

Whitmarsh said earlier in the day that if people weren’t able to return to their homes, temporary lodging and other care would be arranged.

"We have a really huge gymnasium and the Red Cross will be bringing in cots if needed," she said.

Corrections

  • In an earlier version of this story, it was estimated by the Calgary Fire Department that 400 people were evacuated. The City of Calgary estimates 300 residents were actually displaced, based on the fact that the building houses 200 suites.
    Sep 13, 2013 5:00 AM MT