Tenants in a Winnipeg apartment building have been forced out after their furnace broke during one of the coldest Decembers on record in the city.

81-year-old Shirley Appleyard will spend New Year’s in a hotel, after her Maryland Street apartment went ice-cold on Christmas day.

Romeo Miniotas

Plumber Romeo Miniotas points to space where a furnace used to be in a Maryland Street apartment building. It broke on Christmas Day. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

“There was no heat, and if you plugged in more than one thing at a time, it blew fuses,” she said. “Then the pipes burst downstairs.”

The property management company has put tenants up at the Norwood Hotel until things can be fixed, but some people stayed behind and plugged in space heaters.

“Christmas day we brought in 31 heaters initially, then we went to Home Depot and got another 17,” said Leonard Doell, the maintenance manager. “We’ve had winter like, what? -51. And it’s a concrete building.”

Meanwhile, plumber Romeo Miniotas has been working round the clock to try and keep the building’s boiler going.

“I left my family to be here,” he said. “I’m here almost 24 hours a day keeping it going the best I can.”

But a real solution won’t be available until the new boiler arrives from out of province.

“It’s 4,000 pounds. You can’t bring it on an overnight flight. It has to be truck freighted,” said Miniotas.

Once it’s back, it will take another two weeks to install.

For Appleyard, it’s too long.

“I just want to go home. I can imagine what the people in Toronto are feeling. I know exactly what they are feeling except they haven’t got this temperature,” she said.

City inspectors say they are continuing to monitor the building, but officials won’t fine any company that is taking action to fix a heating problem.

The rental company has offered a rent reduction for those who live in the building.