Fire destroys condo development in south Edmonton

An early morning fire has completely levelled a four-storey condominium building in south Edmonton.

Cost of damages estimated to be $5 million

A fire that destroyed a south Edmonton condo complex was deliberately set, say fire investigators. (Courtesy: Jason Cruse)

An early morning fire has destroyed a four-storey condominium building in south Edmonton.

Fire crews were called out to a construction site near 10th Avenue and 173rd Street just after 3 a.m. Saturday.

Senior captain investigator Daryl Brennan said arriving firefighters would see the glow from the fire while several blocks away, prompting them to raise the response to a two-alarm fire.

“I came up on scene and the condo complex was pretty much under construction was fully involved and firefighters were already on scene battling the blaze,” said Karen Burgess with Edmonton fire rescue.

In total, 12 trucks and 50 firefighters responded to the scene, where they had the fire under control within an hour.

The fire was not officially put out until several hours later, however, and is expected to continue smouldering for much of the day.

“We have total destruction of the building,” said Brennan.

Fortunately, no one was injured.

Evacuations ordered

“Last night around 3:30 we heard something like an explosion when we were sleeping … so I wake up and see a big fire through the window,” said nearby resident Chenghai Jin, adding that the explosion he heard was likely the sound of the building collapsing.

Worried for their safety, Jin and his wife dressed and went to the home of a nearby friend.

Eight houses to the west of the condo building were evacuated after large propane tanks were found near the construction site, triggering fears of a possible explosion.

One propane tank was venting due to the extreme heat, said Brennan.

Those residents have now been allowed to return home some to find siding damage caused by the intense heat of the fire.

Firefighters are expected to remain on scene for much of the day. They estimate the total cost of damages to be around $5 million.

An early morning fire tore through a condo building under construction in South Edmonton Saturday. (Emily Fitzpatrick/CBC)

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

“Right now it is under investigation, but it is going to take some time,” said Brennan, adding that fire officials are working with EPS to gather information.

According to Jin, construction on the building was almost finished when the fire struck.

“We thought it was going to finish this summer, but I guess it’s going to be one more year.”

Calgary Trail fire

Just over an hour earlier, crews were called out to a business on fire near 68th Avenue and Calgary Trail.

That fire is now out. No one was hurt.