Rutherford fire probe could take weeks

Investigators say it could be weeks before the cause of a massive condominium fire early Sunday will be known.

Damage now pegged at $20 million

About 80 firefighters were called out to southwest Edmonton early Sunday morning to battle a three-alarm blaze at a condominium complex under construction. (Courtesy: Alexis Marie Chute)

Investigators say it could be weeks before the cause of the massive fire at Rutherford Landing in southwest Edmonton early Sunday is known.

The fire happened at 119th Street and 21st Avenue and covered almost two city blocks. It brought down three buildings of a condo complex under construction, causing at least $20 million in damages.

One building was almost finished and owners were set to move in this December. The second building had its roof on and construction was just underway on the third.

In total, about 265 units were destroyed.

Investigation ongoing

Investigators have been on scene since 2 a.m. Sunday, when the fire started.

They've already upgraded the value of the condominium complex from $17 to $18 million, and expect damage to the homes directly across from the fire to exceed $1 million.

"I know our investigators just had preliminary chats with some of the homeowners, people who were affected from across the street," said Michael Tucker, spokesperson for Fire Rescue Services.

"That number is going to increase by quite a bit, I would imagine, as we get a better sense of the damages."

Investigators are also still tallying damage to construction equipment, equipment trailers and vehicles.

The construction company, The Carlisle Group, said it will begin rebuilding the complex, which was 90 per cent sold, as soon as the investigation is complete.  

With all the buildings levelled to the ground, there's a lot of rubble for investigators to sift through, said Tucker.

He said there are many witnesses to question as well.

“Everything's on the table,” said investigator Cpt. Shayne Page, who confirmed fire officials are still documenting work site damage.

“We’ve just started doing the scene examination. We’re ruling things out and we’re digging through the rubble to see what we can find.”

As for whether the cost of damage will continue to increase, “only time will tell,” said Page.

With files from CBC's Lydia Neufeld


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.