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A fire at a housing complex in Melfort sent eight residents to hospital. (Courtesy: Lorne Thomson/Melfort Housing Authority)

An early morning fire Thursday at an apartment complex in Melfort, Sask., led to seven residents being treated in hospital for smoke inhalation and one 82-year-old resident needing treatment for burns and smoke inhalation.

The alarm went out at around 5:15 a.m. CST, activated by a smoke detector.

Melfort RCMP said Friday that the city's fire department was able to contain the fire to one suite in the four-storey building. The senior who suffered the serious burns was in that suite.

'When the fire department got there everybody knew exactly what to do.' - Melfort Housing Authority manager Lorne Thomson

It was on the second floor of Consolation Manor, a non-profit social housing complex operated by the Melfort Housing Authority. Of the 23 suites in building 13 are for seniors with the remaining 10 for families including people with physical and mental disabilities.

"We were blessed," said Lorne Thomson, manager of the housing agency, relieved that there was no loss of life and that everyone who was taken to hospital is expected to recover.

As of Friday evening, three people remained in hospital, Thomson said.

While the building has no sprinklers, there are smoke detectors in all the suites and hallways. Thomson said regular fire drills are also conducted.

Fire wardens were organized

"We have fire wardens on each floor," he said, noting that one of those wardens sprung into action during the fire. "One in particular took over and just had everything organized, so when the fire department got there everybody knew exactly what to do. So it just worked perfect."

Twenty-nine residents were in the building at the time of the fire. Some of the seniors needed assistance to get out, including one woman living on the fourth floor uses a motorized scooter. 

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Fire crews survey the damage in the apartment complex. (Courtesy: Lorne Thomson/Melfort Housing Authority)

The Residents who were not taken to hospital were taken to the community's Kerry Vickar Centre. RCMP said those people were at the centre until arrangements were in place for temporary accommodations.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and an estimate of the damage is not yet available.

Thomson said he hopes that first floor residents can move back into their suites on Monday. By then he hopes to have a better idea for when the remaining suites can be reoccupied.

Thomson expects the suite where the fire broke out can be repaired, but said it will be a "total gut". It is currently sealed off.

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