Winnipeg woman trapped with sister in wheelchair as massive fire surrounds house

A Winnipeg woman is grateful she and her disabled sister are alive after firefighters rescued them from a massive fire that destroyed their home in the Wolseley neighbourhood on Saturday.

'We're going to die. There's no water, and [firefighters] don't see us banging,' Neda Procner despaired

Winnipeg woman Neda Procner reflects on nearly dying in house fire with sister in wheelchair

7 years ago
Duration 4:00
Featured VideoA Winnipeg woman is grateful she and her sister are alive following a massive fire that destroyed a condominium complex and a number of homes in Winnipeg's Wolseley on Saturday.

A Winnipeg woman is grateful she and her disabled sister are alive after firefighters rescued them from a massive fire that destroyed their home in the Wolseley neighbourhood on Saturday.

Neda Procner and her sister were burned in the fire that began in a condominium complex under construction and spread to adjacent homes.

They were treated in hospital and released, along with four firefighters who helped them to escape the blaze.

Procner said she was sleeping when she woke to the sound of crackling and saw bright, orange light.

She rushed down the stairs to her sister, who uses a wheelchair. The sisters have lived together in the home for 20 years. 

"I said, 'The house is on fire. The house next door is on fire and we have to go…I have to get her out. Oh, my God. The trees are on fire. The grass is on fire,'" she said. "It was so fast."

Procner said she called 911 before she tried to save her sister by going out the back door, where there is a ramp.

The fire swallowed a condominium complex that was under construction at Winnipeg's Maryland Street and Westminster Avenue on Saturday morning, before spreading to neighbouring houses. (Chewynn Mardiros)

"We couldn't get out, the door was hot. It was sparks everywhere," she said. "We would've been burned."

She then ran to the front door and realized she was trapped as the front steps were in flames.

"She was behind me," Procner said of her sister. "I didn't know how to get her out. I can't lift and the chair was between us."

The city says the original call came in at 3:43 a.m. and fire crews arrived at the scene five minutes later.

When fire trucks pulled up before the home, Procner said she initially did not see water.

"It was, 'We're going to die. We're going to die. There's no water, and they don't see us banging, banging, banging," she said.

"When I opened the door to yell, all the heat and sparks … came in. It was just so close. It was really horrible."

Then firemen saw her inside the home and sprayed the front steps to gain access to the door.

The wheelchair ramp at the back of Procner's home. When Neda Procner tried to leave that way, the door was hot. (Chewynn Mardiros)

"Thank God they saw us," she said. 

"I don't know if they broke the door because it was so quick and all I know, there was hot glass in my way and he's yelling at me to get out, and he's trying to get to [my sister]."

Both Procner and her sister were rescued, but both suffered burns. Four firefighters had burns to their necks and faces. By Sunday, all six people had been released from hospital.

While Procner said she saved her bathrobe and her flip flops, everything else perished in the flames.

Police say the fire is estimated to have caused $4.5 million in damage and witnesses reported two suspects were observed in the area around 3:30 a.m., shortly before the fire broke out.

The arson unit continues to investigate.