An explosion and fire at a condominium complex in Winnipeg caused $450,000 damage and sent a man to hospital in critical condition Tuesday evening.

Fire crews were called to 25 Apple Lane, a three-unit condo building located off Sturgeon Road and Saskatchewan Avenue, at about 6:10 p.m.

Apple Lane fire

The outside wall of this building on Apple Lane was blown out in an explosion and ensuing fire on Tuesday evening. (Lindsay Tsuji/CBC)

Paula Eyford, who lives nearby, said she heard a loud blast at around 6 p.m.

"I heard this huge bang and I immediately went like this," she said, ducking, "thinking that it was a bomb or something."

Deputy fire chief Joe Seewald told reporters one man who was inside the home was transported to hospital with second- and third-degree burns.

"The gentleman was in critical condition when he left," Seewald said.

No one else was inside the complex at the time, he added. It's not known where in the building the explosion took place.

Emergency personnel were seen rescuing a number of pets from the burning building.

Seewald said crews removed at least one dog from one of the suites. Staff with the city's animal services agency were called in to provide care, he added.

Outside wall blown out

At least one outside wall of the residence is completely blown out, but the full extent of the damage is not known at this time.

Firefighters would not enter the building because it is structurally not safe and may have to be demolished, Seewald said.

Both Eyford and Teague Bruno, who lives across the street, said they saw the man emerge from the building shortly after the blast.

"I watched the owner of the house come running up the stairs, totally burnt," Eyford said.

"He had little shorts on, but that's all he had on. I'm sure everything else was burned right off him."

Bruno said the man's face was covered with some kind of mask.

"The good news about that, wearing a mask, was that it saved his airway and his breathing and that sort of thing," he said.

"He was able to communicate and he was conscious and he said, 'Yeah, my family's not around, it's just me.'"

The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Staff with Manitoba's Office of the Fire Commissioner were at the scene to decide whether the building needs to be torn down.