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Residents return after Mississauga highrise fire

Residents of a Mississauga apartment building are free to return home after an early morning electrical fire knocked out power and forced them to evacuate.

Many forced to sleep outside in sweltering conditions

Residents were forced outside in sweltering temperatures after a fire cut power to their building early Friday. Many ended up sleeping outside. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Residents of a Mississauga apartment building were allowed to return home Friday afternoon after an early morning electrical fire knocked out power and forced them to evacuate.

Those returning to 50 Mississauga Valley Blvd. will likely be without power for much of the day as crews work to restore damage from the fire, which broke out just after 12:30 a.m. in a third-floor electrical closet.

Residents told CBC News they had to make a hasty escape through smoke-filled, pitch-black stairwells. About a half-dozen people were taken to hospital, most suffering from smoke inhalation. Some residents told CBC News they heard a popping sound or explosions prior to the fire.

"It was the most scary situation I've experienced in my life," resident Mary-Ellen Pearson told CBC News. "I'm glad we got out."

Many residents were forced to sleep in a park across the street as temperatures pushed past 30 C. One man fled wearing only his boxer shorts.

"We're really tired and we just want to go home, shower and sleep," said Samantha Triana, who was one of hundreds who spent the night in the park.  

 
Residents told CBC News they had to exit the building through darkened, smoke-filled hallways. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Later in the morning, the Red Cross arrived and began to distribute food and water. City busses were also called in to provide an air-conditioned environment for residents. Some went to a nearby Tim Horton's location for food. Some residents were also taken to a nearby community centre to rest and escape the heat.

Dunn said some residents believe the fire may have started in the building's air conditioning system. An ongoing heat wave in southern Ontario has taxed air conditioners and the city's electrical grid.

Residents of the building say they've been told there is smoke and water damage on and below the fourth floor.

With files from CBC's Trevor Dunn, Tony Smyth