The fire department rescued some residents but said no fatalities or injuries were reported despite “challenging” conditions.
Residents of a Sutherland condo building lost their homes Saturday after an out-of-control blaze ravaged the building beyond repair.
The Saskatoon Fire Department says “improper disposal of smoking materials” sparked the fire that eventually destroyed one of two Twin Peaks condo buildings near 108th St. E and Bryans Ave, causing an estimated $5 million in damage.
The ensuing inferno took hours to put out. The fire department said they had to rescue some residents from the building early Saturday morning, many of whom spent the night in hotel rooms arranged by the Salvation Army. There were no reported injuries or fatalities.
Property manager Trevor Hanna said he was told by fire inspectors that the 26-unit condo is beyond salvation.
“It’s awful. It’s a destroyed building, and a third of it had to come down because it was unsafe,” said Hanna, a co-owner and broker for Saskatoon Real Estate Services.
As of Saturday afternoon the eastern part of the three-story building lay in ruins, with remnants of wicker baskets, cleaning supplies and clothes poking out from under piles of charred wood and insulation. The air stank of wet ash. A pair of workers with rakes tried to gather what debris they could from outside a chain-link fence that encircled the wood-frame building. What was left of the structure was crowned with ash, marking where the fire chewed through the ceiling.
“The roof is completely gone,” Hanna said.
The department believes the fire began outside the northwest corner of the building’s ground floor. It did not specifically say where the cause was a discarded cigarette, marijuana joint or other tobacco or cannabis product. It is not known if the person who accidentally started the fire was a resident.
“This was a challenging fire due to many circumstances,” the department said in a release. “Firefighters performed amazing rescues and battled extreme fire conditions.”
The department and police responded to the fire in the early hours of the morning and were there for hours extinguishing hot spots before parts of the building could finally be torn down.
Mitch Kachur’s mother-in-law lives in a nearby property. He said she called him a little after 1 am Saturday morning after a Saskatoon police officer politely but firmly told her she needed to leave the house immediately.
He said it was “unbelievable” that no one was hurt.
“There were sparks so big they were coming up over her head,” he said
Salvation Army Maj. Mike Hoeft said the non-profit helped organize a dozen hotel rooms for people displaced by the blaze who either did not have insurance or were unsure of their coverage. He did not know exactly how many people were housed. He said the agency would work with former residents in the coming days to make a permanent housing plan if needed.
“If they continue to have need, we’ll make sure they’re looked after,” Hoeft said.
The fire department is hosting a press conference with further information on Sunday.
Correction: A previous version of this story described Salvation Army and Mark Hoeft as a sergeant. He in fact holds the title of major in that organization.
Saskatoon firefighters tackle huge blaze in condo building
Molotov cocktail, false alarm add to busy fire Saturday in Saskatoon
The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.