Monday, July 4, 2022

‘Smoking materials’ sparked $5 million blaze that destroyed 26 condos

The fire department rescued some residents but said no fatalities or injuries were reported despite “challenging” conditions.

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Residents of a Sutherland condo building lost their homes Saturday after an out-of-control blaze ravaged the building beyond repair.

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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.

Saskatoon firefighters tackled a huge blaze in a condo building at 108th Street and Bryans Avenue in Saskatoon in the early hours of Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Saskatoon firefighters tackled a huge blaze in a condo building at 108th Street and Bryans Avenue in Saskatoon in the early hours of Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by SUPPLIED ,Saskatoon Fire Department

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.

A fire destroyed the Twin Peaks condo building at the corner of 108th St.  and Bryans Ave.  in Saskatoon on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by Zak Vescera/Saskatoon StarPhoenix
A fire destroyed the Twin Peaks condo building at the corner of 108th St. and Bryans Ave. in Saskatoon on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by Zak Vescera/Saskatoon StarPhoenix jpg

“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.

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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.

A fire destroyed the Twin Peaks condo building at the corner of 108th St.  and Bryans Ave.  in Saskatoon on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by Zak Vescera/Saskatoon StarPhoenix
A fire destroyed the Twin Peaks condo building at the corner of 108th St. and Bryans Ave. in Saskatoon on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by Zak Vescera/Saskatoon StarPhoenix jpg

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.”

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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.

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Starting to take it down already

Posted by Tammy Vallee on Saturday, May 28, 2022

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

Saskatoon firefighters tackled a huge blaze in a condo building at 108th Street and Bryans Avenue in Saskatoon in the early hours of Saturday, May 28, 2022.
Saskatoon firefighters tackled a huge blaze in a condo building at 108th Street and Bryans Avenue in Saskatoon in the early hours of Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by SUPPLIED ,Saskatoon Fire Department

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.

zvescera@postmedia.com
twitter.com/zakvescera

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