Residents of Lacombe apartments return after fire

Most residents of a Lacombe apartment building that caught fire early Thursday morning have been allowed to move back into their suites. Sixty people were forced out of Essex House on Northstar Drive after a tenant reported smelling smoke at about 1:30 a.m.

Most residents of a Lacombe apartment building that caught fire early Thursday morning have been allowed to move back into their suites.

Sixty people were forced out of Essex House on Northstar Drive after a tenant reported smelling smoke at about 1:30 a.m.

Tenants were initially taken to a restaurant to have a coffee and warm up and some were later allowed to collect necessities from their suites before moving into temporary shelter, including local motels and hotels.

While Lacombe Emergency Management Agency has determined that most of the 39 suites can now be safely occupied, the six suites that suffered the heaviest damage will remain closed for repairs, said deputy director Fred Millar.

It will be at least a month before those repairs are completed, Millar said in a news release issued on Friday.

Workers with the Canadian Red Cross have been helping residents find temporary housing while they wait to get back into their homes.

The fire started in a bathroom that was under repair, said Millar’s statement.

Investigators have not yet learned what caused the fire.