'I'm getting you out of here': Dramatic rescue after blaze at Winnipeg rooming house

Three people were taken to hospital and several more rescued after a fire broke out at a Winnipeg rooming house early Sunday.

Travis Cory says he had to carry his grandma out as thick, black smoke choked her suite

Travis Cory, left, and Harold Ledoux, right, stand in front of their rooming house, which caught fire early Sunday morning. Both men are now homeless. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

A Winnipeg man says he had to drag his elderly grandmother off the floor and through a window out onto a balcony after the rooming house they live in caught fire early Sunday morning.

Three people were taken to hospital — one in critical condition, another in unstable and the third in stable condition. Several more were rescued after a fire broke out at the Lily Street rooming house Sunday around 2:30 a.m. near the Disraeli Freeway.

Travis Cory has been staying in the house with his grandmother. He said heard beeping coming from a smoke detector and when he opened the door, smoke rushed into the room.

"We're just lucky we're alive," Cory said. His grandmother was passed out on the ground and he couldn't see through the thick, black smoke. "I'm yelling 'grandma, grandma, get up there's a fire come on, hurry, hurry!'"

"I could barely breathe and I grabbed my cat, put him in my bag, threw him out the door and then I grabbed my grandma and threw her out the top of the window there ... got her on the balcony," Cory told CBC Sunday.
Some residents escaped through the back of this rooming house early Sunday morning. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

It took about 20 minutes to get her out of the house while he was begging the sick 75-year-old to get out, he said.

"She said 'just leave me here to die, just leave me.' I said 'no I'm not leaving you in this house, you're coming, I'll die before you go. I'm getting you out of here."

Harold Ledoux said he woke up to a house full of smoke. He said the fire broke out on the second floor. About 14 people live in the rooming house and three kids were inside at the time of the fire, he said.
Ledoux said Winnipeg police officers gave the children blankets to keep warm and an emergency bus was brought in for everyone to stay on until emergency accommodations could be arranged.
There's no word yet on the cause of the fire or how much damage was caused. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

Both Ledoux and Cory are staying in a hotel provided by the Red Cross but said after a few days they'll be homeless and have to turn to a shelter.

"Every man for themselves," said Ledoux, who is worried vandals might get to the rooming house before he can retrieve his belongings from his room. 


​Austin Grabish is a reporter for CBC News in Winnipeg. Since joining CBC in 2016, he's covered several major stories. Some of his career highlights have been documenting the plight of asylum seekers leaving America in the dead of winter for Canada and the 2019 manhunt for two teenage murder suspects. In 2021, he won an RTDNA Canada award for his investigative reporting on the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which triggered change. Have a story idea? Email: