Wolseley fire rips through multiple homes, leaving melted streetlights, rubble

Six people are recovering after two fires ripped through one building and multiple homes in Winnipeg's Wolseley on Saturday morning, leaving behind melted streetlights and bus shelters and piles of rubble.

Blaze spreads from condo complex under construction to neighbouring homes on Maryland Street

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      Six people are recovering after a massive fire ripped through one building under construction and multiple homes in Winnipeg's Wolseley neighbourhood on Saturday morning, leaving behind melted streetlights and bus shelters and piles of rubble.

      Fire crews were called around 3:45 a.m., as a condominium complex that had been under construction on the corner of Maryland Street and Westminster Avenue was burning.

      Those flames spread to the neighbouring houses.

      Doug Kretchmer filmed a blaze that ripped through a condo and homes in Wolseley Saturday morning at the corner of Westminster Avenue and Maryland Street. 1:38
      The fire engulfed a condo complex under construction in the Wolseley neighbourhood, around 3:45 a.m. Saturday. 1:57

      Four firefighters were burned while searching the homes for victims, and two women from one of the homes next to the condo also suffered burns.

      All six people are reported to be in stable condition.

      "[They] should not have gone in, but they did because it was late at night," said Alex Forrest, president of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.

      The massive fire engulfed the entire condo at the corner of Westminster Avenue and Marlyand Street in flames. It also destroyed streets-side bus shacks and melted power lines overhead. A power line can be seen emitting sparks in the middle of Westminster Avenue in the lower right frame. (Doug Kretchmer)

      "They knew that there would be people in the houses."

      The firefighters suffered burns to their faces and necks, Forrest said. Their equipment, which can withstand temperatures up to 1,000 C, also was damaged.

      "It was so hot that the traffic lights on the street were melted. The bus shacks were melted."

      "[The] gear had a failure over 1,000 C. So, these firefighters will have to not only deal with the physical injuries, but will deal with the mental injuries," he said.

      Man ran into street in underwear
      Fire crews hose the building down as the upper levels of the condo crumble and fold. (Doug Kretchmer)

      Josh McArthur. who lives on Maryland Street, woke his friend when he saw flames.

      "I proceeded to run onto the street in my underwear," he said.

      "I burnt my foot on a hot ember and we all just kind of stood here in awe."

      He described seeing "showering fire," and "one big wall of flame."

      "[There were] embers as big as golf balls," he said.

      Crews battle the flames in the condominium complex on Saturday morning. (Terry MacLeod/CBC)

      McArthur said a man who lives in an apartment in the neighbourhood knocked on the door of the home beside the condominium complex to wake the family inside.

      Harold Neufeld, who lived a few houses away from where the fire started, also knocked on doors to wake neighbours.

      "I'm feeling lucky. We managed to wake everybody and get them out, I and some of the other neighbours. So we are very glad that no one was hurt. That is the main thing," he said.

      That the condominium complex was under construction made the fire much worse, Neufeld said.

      Cables flew off building
      The damage that remains following a fire that ripped through a condominium complex, burning neighbouring houses in the process on Saturday morning. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

      "It just basically exploded and the electrical explosions were pretty dramatic, too. The cables flew off the building and coiled across the street. It felt a little dangerous just to be near," he said.

      "The tree alongside the building caught fire as well so the top branches were burning when I saw it."

      Meanwhile, a few blocks away and a couple of hours later, a garage fire was reported on Chestnut Street.

      That fire also spread, burning a home and a garage next door.

      Police say two vehicles were damaged in the Chestnut Street blaze.

      There is no word on the cause of either fire, or whether they're connected. Police say the Maryland Street fire is suspicious, and both are being investigated by the Winnipeg Police Service's arson unit.

      Six people are recovering after a massive fire ripped through one building under construction and multiple homes in Winnipeg's Wolseley neighbourhood on Saturday morning, leaving behind melted streetlights and bus shelters and piles of rubble. 1:26

      with files from CBC's Erin Brohman and Terry MacLeod


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