EDMONTON -- An afternoon balcony fire at a north side apartment building prompted the evacuation of about 30 units Thursday.

The blaze broke out at Castle Court on 144 Avenue and 121 Street around 2:30 p.m.

A man who lives in a neighbouring building said he originally believed someone was hosting a bonfire nearby. 

"But then I went and looked out my nephew's window and I see the fire just shooting out... About 10 feet out, so I knew automatically it's going to spread," Skylar Hanna, 29, told CTV News Edmonton. 

Despite being asthmatic, he ran next door to make sure everyone was out. 

"I got to the second floor where there was a nice lady and her four-year-old daughter was holding a brand new baby, a newborn," the single father of two said. "Got them out safely and then I went running back in and I just kept going floor to floor, door to door, banging, 'Get out, get out, there's a fire.'" 

"I just thought about kids or the elderly." 


Hanna says he helped about five families. Some residents, he believes, had disregarded the alarm as a test. 

By the time he got to the top floor, he said "it was so full of smoke I was pretty much on my hands and knees crawling. I mean, I can't breathe." 

But by then, firefighters were coming up the other stairwell, and he was able to turn around. 

According to fire officials, it had taken the nine responding fire crews five minutes to arrive.

In the end, no injuries were reported.

The district chief said the fire was mainly concentrated in the building's roof.

"Our interior attack crew was in. They can hear it travelling in the roof, it was racing back and forth, and then the roof start collapsing inside," Brian Hoekstra told CTV News Edmonton at the scene.

Fire officials said the fire was brought under control just before 8:30 p.m. and was declared out about two hours later.

In total, 120 people were displaced. The city's Emergency Support Response Team helped eight of these residents.

"When I got inside, I broke down. Sad. Super sad," Hanna said of the emergency. 

He shrugged off the significance of his actions. 

"Spread the love. Gotta start caring," he commented. "Because everyone's so focused on their phones and everything else." 

Crews were at the location Friday to fence off the property and investigate.