Passerby helps rescue man trapped inside burning West End apartment

A Winnipeg man says he helped rescue a man who was trapped inside a burning building Monday afternoon — all before firefighters arrived.

The building had been boarded up after a fire ripped through it last week displacing dozens of residents

Fire crews douse a blaze shooting from the roof of this Maryland Street apartment Monday afternoon. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A pair of Good Samaritans helped rescue a man who was trapped inside a burning building Monday afternoon — all before firefighters arrived.

George Moose says he was on his way home from volunteering at a North End Church on Monday afternoon when he spotted smoke coming from the three-storey apartment.

The 36-year-old pulled over to take some video on his phone when he heard a man yelling from inside the building.

"So I ran across the street, and I saw that the stairs were boarded up, and I thought maybe someone was behind there because I could hear him yelling," said Moose.

Moose said the man called out to him to tell him he was further toward the back of the building.

"I went to the back, and he was hanging out — what I'm guessing — is the third-floor window."

This is the second fire at the Maryland apartment in the past seven days. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Moose ran back to the street to look for help. That's when another passerby joined him, and the pair watched from below as the man made his way to some cables hanging along the building.

"I just told him 'If you fall we'll catch you', 'cause I wasn't sure if that wire would hold," said Moose.

The man, who appeared to be in his 20s Moose said, made his way to a ledge.

"From that ledge, we grabbed his feet, like he had to step off the ledge and onto our hands to get him down," he said.

"He didn't look like he was hurt or anything but he sounded really freaked out."

Moose said once the rescue was complete, he began calling out to see if there were others inside but was quickly forced back because the smoke intensified. 

Moose said the man thanked him and ran off just before fire trucks arrived.

City says no one else inside

The city said crews were called around 2 p.m.CT on Monday.

Firefighters initially went inside but were forced to exit for safety reasons. Crews concentrated on dousing the fire from outside, the city said. Firefighters used a drone to monitor the blaze from above.

The city said crews were able to conduct a search, and no one else was found inside.

A neighbouring building was evacuated as a precaution but residents have since been allowed to return.

Fire crews blocked lanes of traffic on Maryland Street around Ellice Avenue for several hours over rush hour and expected to be there into the evening.

2nd fire in a week

This is the second time in a week crews were called to the building. It had been boarded up from another fire that forced more than 40 residents out of their apartments on Jan. 14. Three people were taken to hospital in unstable condition.

Occupants were not allowed to return following the fire, the city said.

The causes of both fires have not been released.

West End community organizations have issued a call for donations of household items in recent days after the original fire, along with another apartment blaze a few properties down on Jan. 13. 

About 80 people have been displaced from fires in the neighbourhood, according to the Spence Neighbourhood Association.

Fire crews battle the first of two blazes at the Maryland apartment on Jan. 14. (Trevor Brine/CBC)


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