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Thursday 29 December 2011

West End Fire on St. Paul Avenue UPDATED x 8

Fire at 817 St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg

Here's something you don't want to see - a fire right next door at 4 am.

Last night, one of the century old triplet of blocks on St. Paul Avenue had a major fire. Thankfully, everyone made it out alive. The neighbouring block was also evacuated as a precaution.

My thoughts go out to my neighbours who will have some difficult times in the weeks ahead.

Fire at 817 St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg
Fire at 817 St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg


St. Paul St. Paul

Here's a post I did back in 2008 showing some of the building renos. The three had all been abandoned for over a year before being gutted and turned into condos. In the two buildings to the east the suites run the entire length of the building so there are only 8 units in each. To get an idea of the inside, here are interior shots of one of the condos in the now-burned 817 St. Paul.

Fire on St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg
Fire on St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg

Sadly, 817 St. Paul Avenue has to be torn down. The roof collapsed earlier this morning and the walls have been weakened by the heat.

It's amazing how quickly things change. Last night at 4 am a small basement fire that was thought to be extinguished manged to get behind the wall, travel up the back staircase and into the attic. (My account, that's nothing official from the fire commish's office.)

My building is still evacuated and has had smoke and water damage but considering what happened to 817, there's nothing to complain about.

Thankfully, all got out safely.

Residents Escape Condo Complex Fire Winnipeg Free Press


The building is now gone. Torn down through the night and into this morning. It's very sad.


One slight bit of good news: cats ! One cat (Wyatt) belonging to a couple that were away on vacation has been found alive ! I bumped into friends of theirs at the fire scene last evening and they told me the sad story about the two cats likely perishing and the owners being away. The second one survived but scooted off. Hopefully it will be found. That would make a nice reunion.

The condo building to the west is back in as of Thursday afternoon, except for the two basement suites that have water damage. The daycare to the east still looks closed and worse for wear. It was hit with a lot of water.

Thankfully, no debris came through my windows, which was my biggest fear. The basement neighbours, though, have some nasty water damage. There's a curtain of grungy ice frozen over my windows which is fine. I really don't want to be looking out over the removal of the rubble for the next couple of days.

Fire on St. Paul Avenue, Winnipeg

Kudos to the city for waiving daytime parking restrictions for residents of the neighboring buildings and for Shoppers Drug Mart at Portage and Burnell for offering up their parking lot for overnight parking as the east half of our parking lot is, well, as shown above.

I am interested to hear the fire commissioner's findings. Despite the comments section speculation these weren't dumpy welfare buildings, nobody was smoking no homeless people living in the basement (and I haven't read the Sun's comment section but I assume they blame Aboriginals somehow.)

What a way to end off a year.


Removal work has ceased for now. A fire investigation expert is being flown in and wants to be here for the rest of the task.

St. Paul Avenue fire
St. Paul Avenue fire
St. Paul Avenue fire


817 St. Paul fire aftermath
St. Paul Avenue fire
Demolition and removal are back underway. The daycare centre is also open again, which I'm sure is a relief to area parents.

817 St. Paul Avenue fire

Unfortunately, no sign of Friadie-Cat. it was hoped that if she were still alive the noise of the demo would send her out from her underground lair. Presumed dead.

Jan 3 - 10
St. Paul Avenue cleanup
St. Paul Avenue cleanup
St. Paul Avenue cleanup
St. Paul Avenue cleanup
Still now word on fire but physical investigation is done as the last of the rubble has been cleaned away. They're just starting on the breaking up of the foundation at Jan 10. Should all be gone by Friday.

January 21, 2012

St. Paul Avenue Cleanup
St. Paul Avenue Cleanup
St. Paul Avenue Cleanup

Well, the final phase of construction is pretty much complete. The hole that was once 817 St.Paul Avenue is now filled in and the heavy machinery gone. It's like it was never there.

Oh, the cause of the fire was indeterminable. There was just too much damage to the basement corner that it started in to investigate properly.


Anonymous said...

Bad news for the new owners but I fear too many of these units have been dumped on the market by former landlords facing major renovations.

Be interesting to see how the insurance treats them going forward.

One Man Committee said...

Wow, that looks like a pretty intense fire. I hope everyone is OK...

Christian Cassidy said...

These buildings were gutted down to the brick and rebuilt with all new systems - not one of "those buildings"

Yeah, egveryone was ok. The third building has to be torn down

Vanessa said...

Glad to hear all are safe. Such a sad event. (I saw your tweet about the Global reporter...not classy on her part at all)

The View from Seven said...

One more person here relieved to hear everyone got out safely.

It could easily have turned out differently. What began as small fires in much larger buildings -- such as the 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in suburban Cincinnati -- turned deadly because people didn't take fire alarms and evacuation orders seriously. Fortunately in this case, everyone got their arses moving fast enough to get out safely.

Melanie Murray said...

Thought of you when I heard about the fire. I'm glad you weren't directly affected, but sorry for those who were.

Anonymous said...

I once came home from work to discover I was homeless! The whole place burned away & instantly I was left w/ nothing. It was quite a liberating experience. I truly took Tyler Durden's words to heart when he said "Stuff you own is owning you." With no stuff one is tends to look inside their heart & re-evaluate their life.
I saw this story on the CBC news & one of the tenants spoke to the camera crew. She was quite upset (obviously), but she also seemed quite smart &(also very attractive) thoughtful. I hope she reads this., I wish her well.

Bryan Scott said...

Very relieved to hear that it wasn't your building. Still, this obviously sucks for everyone--I hope this wasn't an arson...that would be a terrible way to start the year.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christian,
It's Kim (formally of 821 St. Paul). Glad to hear everyone in your building is ok. It breaks my heart to think of what was lost in the fire. However, everyone is safe, and that's the most important thing. Keep us posted on the happenings.

Stephan said...

My heart goes out to all those who lost property at this fire. Sad as the loss of this building was, its profile and interior photos are still on a website of a realtor named Eric N. -- 817 st paul Avenue. There are 17 photos of the interior as it used to be, and a video. One can still hear the echo of the auctioneer's voice as he calls out, "Going once, going twice, SOLD, to the gentleman in the bowler hat (for $174,900)." It was listed here 10 June 2011, the building was built in 1911, and the fire was in December 2011. Coincidence? I hope so.
Note to Christian: I noticed that your link in the blog, entitled "here are interior shots", is defunct, as the WFP apparently no longer lists this address.

Stephan said...

I looked in more detail at Eric's listing in my link above, and noticed that a reserve fund of $3938 had been placed on this condo on 25 October 2010. Not knowing the meaning of this, I had to look it up on Investopedia, and found this tidbit: "Reserve Fund: A business, such as one dealing with rental properties, will put some rental income into a fund used to pay for any unexpected repairs to the properties. Condominiums often will set up reserve funds in which condo owners pay a set monthly amount to maintain the quality of the condominium." Live and learn, I say. I wonder what happens to the reserve funds in case of fire. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Suite 8.. 817 st paul...in late 2005 someone called a bogus 911 call in on me....then someone called the health department on that very same suite days after it was vacated in January 2006 .. Someone wanted that 1 building very badly but not the other 2 buildings...then 6 months later a fire...and instead of rebuilding they take the insurance money

The investigator probably didn't think the gas can next to the back entrance was connected and it was just a coincidence the backdoor was left open...and the new owner was conveniently not in the country after his recent purchase

Anonymous said...

There was a guy beating a girl underneath my window between the daycare....then days/weeks later my female druggie neighbor called a hoax domestic call in on me...

Not too many 17 year olds make a citizen's arrest against a full grown man, then have a hoax 911 call made on them. Meanwhile the whole time I was wanted because i missed a court date....

then less then 3 years later....more hoax 911 reports from another female....

was it a good idea for her to send texts about the 30k she was offered??