Panorama Hills residents return home after fire

Fire crews were busy fighting a large fire in Panorama Hills in the city's northwest overnight. The flames were so high in the air that the fire could be seen from miles away.

Fire seen from Deerfoot Trail as crews responded

Residents are now back in their homes following a fire this morning in Panorama Hills. 2:00

Residents are now back in their homes following a fire this morning in Panorama Hills.

Crews were called out just before 2:30 a.m. MT to Panatella Square N.W.

Crews were on scene Friday morning putting out hotspots at a fire in Panorama Hills. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

Two townhouse complexes under construction were destroyed, and another was damaged. The three-storey structures were not occupied, but were in the final stages of being built.

The fire forced the evacuation of 14 nearby homes, which now have exterior damage.

"I was petrified," said Debbie Mactavish who woke up in the middle of the night from the sound of her windows breaking.

She looked out to see fire that was almost eight-storeys high and called 911. 

"I told her my windows were starting to crack and she said 'Get out of the house now,'" she said. 

Mactavish and all of her neighbours fled.

The fire was so high and bright it could be seen from miles away.

'All of Panorama was bright'

"The flames were blazing. All of Panorama was bright," said Kamela Darwish, who lives a few blocks away.

Battalion Chief Ernie Molineaux said the fire was "spectacular."

"As I was approaching, I was coming up the Deerfoot, and I could see it from several miles away. So the flames were very high in the air, it was fully involved as crews arrived," said Molineaux.

Several large industrial propane tanks nearby also posed an explosion risk so crews had to take steps to keep them cool.

"We had several propane tanks, the 200-pounders, that were threatened by the fire," said Molineaux. "One did actually bend for a short period of time but we cooled them and controlled them quick enough."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Crews are on scene trying to piece together what may have happened.