House fire shuts down street in West End Winnipeg

A house fire has closed part of Maryland Street in Winnipeg's West End.

Maryland Street closed between Ellice and St. Matthews avenues

Fire crews battle the blaze on Maryland Street. (City of Winnipeg/Twitter)

A house fire has closed part of Maryland Street in Winnipeg's West End.

Maryland is blocked to traffic between Ellice and St. Matthews avenues; it was shut down before the morning rush hour and remains closed in part because of ice coating the road from the firefighting efforts.

"We've had trees falling over because of the amount of water we've put on the structure," platoon Chief Alden Darragh said.

The fire in a vacant, boarded-up 2½-storey home was reported just before 4 a.m., fire officials said.

Flames and heavy smoke were coming from the roof and windows of the building when fire crews arrived, they said.

The sky can be seen through the upper floor window frame after a section of the roof collapsed. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Henry Santos lives across the street and happened to be working on a city sanding crew when he noticed smoke billowing out of the house.

"I saw smoke," Santos said. "Then I saw the flames and I phoned the fire department. This is the second time it's been on fire; this summer it was on fire also."

Neighbour Roy Love said it was lucky his neighbour was nearby.

"He was hollering at us to get out of the house, that the house next door was on fire again."

The houses on either side were evacuated as a precaution, with residents sheltering in a Winnipeg Transit bus.

Firefighters mounted a defensive attack and the fire was declared under control at 6:30 a.m. but crews are expected to be on Maryland throughout the day, putting out hot spots.

"This is the second major fire within the year," Love said. "It's a major pain in the derrière."

Love doesn't think anyone was in the house at the time of the fire.

"It was boarded up real well, like from the ground floor up, and the only thing that was left open was the open roof," Love said.

Santos said neighbours wanted the house knocked down after the fire in July.

"I wish they would knock it down because it's just an eyesore and dangerous," Santos said.

"They should have knocked it down a long time ago."

Trees in the area of the fire are coated in ice and some have collapsed, fire officials say. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

Love worried the fire would spread to his home because the two houses almost touch.

"I'm praying it comes down now. I mean, there's just nothing left. There can't be anything left inside, not the way it was engulfed in flames," Love said.

No injuries were reported but the blaze left the house heavily damaged with parts of it collapsing, including a section of roof.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. No damage estimate was available, the city said.

Drivers are warned to be careful in the area when the street reopens because of the ice on the road.