Crews have put out a fire that broke out at the vacant Charles Camsell Hospital in Edmonton on Saturday morning.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 10:30 a.m. after a torch used by a maintenance worker ignited insulation on the top floor. 

Capt. Jim Wilk says the fire was contained to the insulation but still took awhile to put out. Firefighters had to carry equipment up the stairs.

“All the sprinklers and the standpipes were decommissioned so we manually had to get hose lines to the top floor that took quite a while," he said. 

Wilk says the fire has been deemed accidental and was not an act of vandalism. The only people on the site were workers removing asbestos from the structure. Everyone got out safely, he added. 

The Hazmat team was called to the scene as a precautionary measure to make sure that firefighters weren't exposed to the asbestos. The material was contained in bags but steps were taken just in case, Wilk said. 

“Hazmat has recommended that everyone is soaked down and all their gear is taken away from them for cleaning," he said. 

Fire officials said flames damaged insulation in the fan room and on the exterior wall of the mechanical room. Heat and fire also damaged electrical wiring in the mechanical room. 

Damages were estimated at $5,000 because most of the mechanical room was set to be demolished. 

The hospital in the Inglewood neighbourhood closed in 1996.

Architect Gene Dub and a group of investors bought the site in 2004 with plans to turn it into a condominium.

The project has been delayed partly due to the presence of the asbestos.

Fire at Camsell Hospital

Smoke could be seen billowing out of the top of the old hospital that is slated for redevelopment into a condo complex. (Courtesy of Rick Solkowski )