An electrical fire in a recliner chair may have been the cause of a blaze that led to the hurried evacuation of almost 200 seniors from their St. John's apartments Wednesday. 

St. John's South MHA Tom Osborne says the fire department has not yet confirmed the cause of the Maplewood Place fire, but it's his understanding that an electrical fire sparked the incident. 

Emergency crews at St. John's apartment complex fire

Emergency crews stayed at the scene of the Maplewood Place fire for hours on Wednesday. (CBC )

Dozens of seniors were rushed out of the complex in blizzard-like conditions, with Metrobus assigning several vehicles to help move people from the Shaw Street complex.  

Most residents spent the night in hotel rooms or with family. Five required medical attention for smoke inhalation at a St. John's hospital. 

Residents and their families remain shaken by the incident, in which smoke quickly billowed through corridors. 

Sean Fillier, who spent panicky minutes waiting to see if his mother Ann was all right, said the two were already concerned about what he called a major defect in fire protection in the building. 

"It was only last week she was talking about not having any sprinkler systems in that building," he said. "It's scary. Scary stuff."

Fillier and other family members were reunited with their loved ones at city hall, where residents were bused.

Fillier's worry built as bus after bus arrived, until his mother finally emerged from the last one.

"I never got a chance (to call)," explained Ann Fillier. "I never took my cellphone." 

Seniors registered with the Canadian Red Cross so they could be treated for shock.