Manitoba

Winnipeg fire crews fight 12 blazes overnight

Fire investigators are sifting through debris from a deck fire that spread to the back of a home in River Heights — one of a dozen they had to race to through the night.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman calls string of recent fires caused by arson 'unsettling'

Winnipeg fire crews fight 12 blazes overnight

5 years ago
2:14
Fire investigators are sifting through debris from a deck fire that spread to the back of a home in River Heights - one of a dozen they had to race to through the night. 2:14

Fire investigators are sifting through debris from a deck fire that spread to the back of a home in River Heights — one of a dozen they had to race to through the night.

Crews were dispatched to a total of 12 blazes between 7:30 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Alex Forrest,  president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg.

They included garage and garbage fires, riverbank bush fires, a car fire and a fire in a city park, Forrest said.

The deck fire on Waterloo Street, just south of Fleet Avenue, happened around 4 a.m. The attached deck at the rear of the house was consumed and the flames also burned the back of the house and nearby garage.

An investigator goes through a burned-out deck following a fire early Tuesday. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Several people inside the home got out safely.

Neighbour Michaela Samek said she heard loud popping noises like "big firecrackers" going off, followed by a sudden "big boom."

"So I looked out of the window and I saw a fire starting. It was quite small, but very soon it became very large, about two storeys high," she said.

She called 911 then ran outside in her bare feet to get her neighbours out of their house, but they were already coming out on their own.

Fire officials do not yet have a damage estimate or a suspected cause.

Fiery night

  • 7:26 p.m. — 700 block of Tache Avenue — fire in a park.
  • 7:28 p.m. — Waterfront Drive near Heaton Avenue — two brush fires.
  • 7:35 p.m. — 2700 block of Ness Avenue — fire in a bush.
  • 9:43 p.m. — 400 block of McGee Street — garbage in a backyard set on fire, including a mattress. Fire spread to a fence. A man has been arrested.
  • 10:34 p.m. — 600 block of Redwood Avenue — a garage and garbage bin fire.
  • 10:58 p.m. — Grandmont Boulevard — garbage fire.
  • 11:30 p.m. — 400 block of Furby Street — a pile of garbage, including a mattress and dresser, set on fire.
  • 12:09 a.m. — Waterfront Drive — grass fire.
  • 3:50 a.m. — College Avenue and McPhillips Street — car fire.
  • 4:23 a.m. — 600 block of Waterloo Street — deck fire.
  • 5:36 a.m. — 1100 block of Wilkes Avenue — dumpster fire.
  • 6:38 a.m. — 500 Aberdeen Avenue — garbage bin fire.

No one was hurt in any of the fires, which have all been deemed suspicious.

They followed a busy weekend when firefighters were called out to four big blazes and numerous burning garbage bins.

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said it is "unsettling" how many fires have happened recently, especially considering several were caused by arson.

"We don't want to see a repeat of the string of arsons from a few years back," Bowman said. "But we also shouldn't jump to conclusions at this point. We want the fires to be investigated fully and comprehensively by those who are responsible for doing that."
Neighbour Michaela Samek took this photo of the fire on Waterloo Street. (Courtesy Michaela Samek)

Community activist fears copy-cat arsonists

Sel Burrows, a community activist in Point Douglas, called the rash of blazes scary.

He said there haven't been any arsons reported in his area yet, but he's still concerned. He said the community has worked hard delivering flyers and encouraging home owners to keep their properties clean and free of debris, which can attract arsonists.

"I had one phone call this morning about an apartment block whose dumpster was overflowing," he said.

He worries arsonists are being spurred on by the large amount of attention a recent fire at Maryland Avenue and Westminster Avenue got.

"I suspect there's a bit of a copy-cat thing going on – that big fire in Wolseley got so much coverage," said Burrows. "That could encourage people who want to get attention."

A firefighter hoses down a garage on Redwood Avenue Tuesday night. (CBC)

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