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Fire breaks out while Edmonton police carry out court order; 7 people hospitalized

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Seven people were taken to hospital from a fire south of Edmonton's Whyte Avenue early Friday morning.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at 10745 79 Ave. NW, an apartment building called Blue Ice Properties according to Google, at 12:45 a.m.

However, police were on the scene hours earlier.

Edmonton Police Service says it was asked to help another police agency carry out a court order against a male who had barricaded himself inside his suite.

Negotiations with him started at 5 p.m.

"While police were on scene, a fire broke out in the suite where the subject male resided, and the building had to be evacuated," EPS spokesperson Cheryl Voordenhout said in an email.

Firefighters arrived within five minutes, according to Edmonton Fire Rescue Services (EFRS).

"It was a fast-moving fire… but we did have eight crews on scene very quickly, 32 firefighters, to knock the fire down and bring it under control and keep civilians as safe as we could," Neil Robertson, an assistant deputy chief of operational performance, told CTV News Edmonton after the flames had been brought under control.

Some people in the four-storey walk-up needed to be rescued from their balconies, but Robertson couldn't say how many or the total number of people displaced from the building.

He also would not say if or how severely the seven people hospitalized were injured.

Investigators will determine how the fire broke out and whether it was arson.

An Edmonton Transit Service bus was brought in to keep displaced residents warm.

Male taken into custody; at least 1 in ICU

The male who was the subject of the court order, whose age EPS did not share, was taken into police custody around 12:48 a.m.

EPS did not say what kind of court order it was enacting or what police agency it was assisting.

"The cops should have taken control of the situation. I'm furious with the police department," a third-floor resident, Daniel Oulds, told CTV News Edmonton.

His 79-year-old mother, who he said is now in the intensive care unit, woke him up around 12:30 a.m.

The single dad carried his two-and-a-half-year-old diabetic daughter out of the burning building while his mom followed.

"I would have burned to death in that apartment if my mom didn't wake me and my daughter up. If she wasn't sleeping here, I would have died tonight. I would not be here right now. I'm a heavy sleeper; I've been at the hospital for seven days [with my daughter]," he said.

Oulds said his daughter is doing well in hospital because he wrapped her up in a blanket as he carried her out, but he is worried for his mom's life.

Voordenhout said no one from EPS was available to take media questions on Friday.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), which looks into complaints of police conduct resulting in serious injury or death, will not investigate the incident.

EPS said it notified the director of law enforcement, who decided the incident was not "within the scope of an ASIRT review."

Fire alarms didn't ring: residents

Residents Taylor Hyndman and Joshua Miller also feel lucky to be alive because they did not hear the building's fire alarms go off.

"We were woken up by banging on the walls from the firefighters and I'm assuming maybe neighbours. And I saw flashing lights out my window," Taylor Hyndman recalled.

"None of the fire alarms went off. We were not woken up by fire alarms. We were woken up by banging from the firefighters. So the blaze had already started, there was already smoke coming under our door, when we were awoken [sic]. So thank God they woke us up."

CTV News Edmonton reached out to the property manager for comment and asked EFRS if it could confirm the fire alarms were triggered.

"The fire is under investigation at this time," a public information officer replied.

Hyndman and Miller said when they left their suite on the second floor, located on the end of the building opposite the fire, smoke was "everywhere."

"By the time we got to where we were going, we were black with smoke and soot," Hyndman said of their escape.

Miller added, "As soon as I opened the door, it was just black. Couldn't see anything. And we were so close to the [exit] door. It felt like forever just getting out the door."

Oulds said after he got out of the building, "I was puking up pure black, like I ate a fire log."

Hyndman and Miller were taken in by a Good Samaritan across the street. They couldn't remember his name after the ordeal but said he and a nurse friend offered the evacuees shelter, water and shoes.

"I've still got the shoes on that they gave me because I walked out in just flip flops," Miller told CTV News Edmonton.

That Good Samaritan, Cole Panchyshyn, said he and his friends didn't think twice to help.

"There were people standing out here in their bare feet so I grabbed a couple of pairs of shoes of mine. Immediately we just jumped into action and made sure that everyone was OK."

Miller and Hyndman were able to save all three of their cats, two of which Panchyshyn also took into his home. However, they were looking for a calico named Cleo who ran out of her open carrier.

Both they and Oulds planned to stay with relatives but were uncertain of what came next.

"Luckily – thank God – we have family we can stay with. But I know there are a lot of people who don't have resources, they don't have family, they don't have friends," Hyndman said.

"It sucks because mom told me for months to get tenant's insurance and I didn't. Everything that was in that apartment, I lost. I don't have a single thing to my name. I don't have a home," Oulds said.

"It's scary, but what am I going to do now?"

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Nicole Lampa, Evan Klippenstein and Nav Sangha 

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