EDMONTON — About 160 Edmonton seniors are homeless after a fire ripped through the roof of housing complex.
Fire department spokeswoman Melanie Mochoruk says one person sustained minor injuries in the blaze and several pets were killed.
The three-alarm fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. at a Carrington Communities complex.
Neighbour Frank Dolynchuk says firefighters surrounded the building and blasted streams of water from ladders.
The fire was declared under control by 9 a.m., but fire crews were still on scene Sunday afternoon dousing hot spots.
Onlookers quickly turned into volunteers when it became apparent that some of the residents weren’t evacuating quickly enough because of mobility problems.
Many needed help to make it to the three ETS buses and nearby chiropractic clinic that were serving as shelters.
Several left behind walkers and wheelchairs in the rush to escape, as well as medication, dentures, glasses and other necessities that fire crews went back to try and salvage later.
Marion Beile, whose mother, Kay Laanstra, lives in the complex, said she got a call shortly after the fire broke out from a neighbour who offered Laanstra her car to sit in.
When Beile and her husband arrived on scene, they found Laanstra in the chiropractic clinic.
“Everybody kind of pulled together,” said Wally Beile, while the couple waited near the burned building for firefighters to bring down a walker, medication and a purse.
A firefighter eventually came down pushing a large pile of stacked wheelchairs and walkers.
“EMS and fire were just unbelievable, helping and blanketing,” Marion said.
Managers at Carrington Communities were scrambling to find new living arrangements for their tenants.
Many went home with family, while others were offered vacant rooms at another Carrington facility.
Others might be housed at care facilities owned by other companies, said Jarret Sheath, project manager for Carrington.
Sheath said the residents were shaken up, but coping.
“As you would expect with the elderly, there’s a lot of mobility challenges and it adds to the anxiety (during a fire),” he said.
“We had a lot of strong volunteers and the fire department was awesome.”