Arson guts Grande Prairie complex
Jessica Earle, ctvedmonton.ca
Published Saturday, November 28, 2009 7:25PM MST
Dozens of people are homeless in a community north-west of Edmonton after two deliberately-set fires ripped through a 31-unit residential building.
Grande Prairie fire officials say the blaze broke out around 4:00 a.m. Saturday at the city's three-storey Eagle Manor boardwalk property.
"It's our understanding that all of the occupants were able to get safely out of the building without any complications," said David Mcllveen, Director of Community Development for Boardwalk Rental Communities.
He tells CTV the building will likely be torn down, but believes his company has enough vacant suites across Grande Prairie to find permanent residence for all tenants before Christmas.
"We are hoping to be able to re-house all the people that were there," said Mcllveen.
The Red Cross is working to get displaced residents into hotel suites for the coming days and Mcllveen says people could be moving into their new suites as early as Tuesday.
Still, at least one resident is reeling after literally being left with only the shirt on his back.
"We just moved in yesterday... Everything is gone, [all I have left is] just what I'm wearing," said a man in his 30s who didn't give his name. He says he didn't have time to get content insurance for his belongings before the blaze hit.
The investigation into the arson is ongoing, but officials say they already know one of the fires was started in a vacant unit.
"The rear windows were gone out of the apartment," said Grande Prairie fire prevention officer Mark Whelpton of how the arsonist or group of arsonists managed to break into the building.
"Someone had broke in and it was intentionally set."
Investigators say the top floor is gutted, and the first two floors have sustained severe water and smoke damage.
There's no word yet on a damage estimate.