Calgary

200 people affected by 'huge' blaze at Inglewood condo complex

Residents of two 64-unit buildings were forced to flee their condos early Wednesday morning as a fire ripped through the complex in Inglewood in southeast Calgary.

Residents of two 64-unit buildings forced to flee in middle of night

There was a huge volume of flame coming from the roof, prompting fire fighters to elevate the call to four alarms. (@KulioGillesias)

Residents of two 64-unit buildings were forced to flee their condos early Wednesday morning as a fire ripped through the complex in Inglewood in southeast Calgary.

Fire crews were called at about 1:40 a.m. to the four-storey Pearce Gardens complex and quickly elevated the response to four alarms, said fire Chief Steve Dongworth.

At one point there were 25 trucks at the 64-unit building at 14th Avenue and 17th Street S.E.

"It was pretty hectic early on," Dongworth said.

A major fire ripped through the roof and top floor of a condo complex in Inglewood on Wednesday morning in southeast Calgary. (Dave Will/CBC)

"This was a huge volume of flame coming from the roof of the building here. And it was starting to impinge on the adjacent building."

Both buildings were safely evacuated and there were no injuries. More than 200 residents were affected, the fire department said in a release.

Firefighters were able to knock down the fire quickly with an aggressive attack, and prevent it from spreading across to the mirror complex, which has another 64 units. 

It was declared under control just before 3:30 a.m.

The fire was contained to the northern 64-unit building of the two-building Pearce Gardens condominium complex at the bottom right-hand side of this satellite view. (Google)

"There were some great calls made here tonight which probably saved the second building," Dongworth said.

The fire ripped through the roof and caused extensive damage on the upper floors, damaging six units. Other units were damaged by smoke and water, the fire department said.

Jason Hogge and his family were woken up by fire alarms, believing at first it was a false alarm.

"Came out around the corner and the whole building was ablaze. I've never seen anything like it," he said.

"Sat in the evacuation bus for a bit, and I think emergency services did a great job of looking after us. And we grabbed a taxi to our brother's and we came back here and they saved Poofy the cat."

Diane Ukrainec, who lives in the adjacent building, says it seemed like the fire started and began to spread very quickly.

"We think it was sort of in the balcony area that it might have started. There's speculation that it's an empty unit," she said.

Residents of the affected structure were taken by Calgary Emergency Management Agency officials to a reception centre at the nearby Max Bell Centre.

It's hoped the residents of the sister complex will be allowed to return to their homes later on Wednesday.

Crews will remain at the site all day.

The top floor of the complex was totally gutted by the fire. (@KulioGillesias)

The damaged building will need major reconstruction, Dongworth said.

Fire investigators are working to determine the origin and cause of the fire. Initial calls to 911 indicated it started on a balcony.

Dongworth says four-alarm fires are rare in Calgary.

"I think you're back into the Millrise fire — I can't even think how many years ago that was — and Erlton, of course, was probably five alarms maybe. But it's not common," he said.

A fire in Millrise in southwest Calgary damaged 159 condo units in 2010.

The Erlton fire destroyed three condo buildings and damaged a fourth building at a partially-finished condominium complex along the Elbow River 16 years ago.