Historic downtown apartment building fire loss estimate over $2.5M
Debra Clark , CTV Edmonton
Published Saturday, October 17, 2015 12:20PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 18, 2015 11:02AM MDT
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services have estimated the loss associated with Saturday morning’s inferno that destroyed a vacant century-old apartment building under renovation at 114 Street, north of Jasper Avenue, at $2.65 million.
According to officials, just after 4 a.m. fire crews responded to Leamington Mansions, a low-rise brick building originally built in Edmonton’s Oliver neighbourhood in 1914.
Gary Wiebe with Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said the fire was brought under control within three hours.
“The first arriving crews saw a fully involved building [that] struck a second alarm right away, which basically doubles our response,” Wiebe told CTV News.
At the peak of the fire, 14 units and about 50 firefighters were on the scene.
According to Wiebe, crews were able to contain the blaze and successfully stop it from spreading to surrounding buildings.
“There were a lot of sparks flying around, a lot of potential for other buildings catching fire,” he explained.
Murray Billett, an Oliver neighbourhood resident for the past 25 years, said it’s a sad day for the community.
“We were really looking forward to seeing some of our history maintained in downtown Edmonton because we’ve lost a lot over the years,” he told CTV News.
According to Billett, whose own apartment looks down onto the burnt structure, the size of the blaze was incredible.
“It just looked like a bomb had been dropped,” he explained.
“The heat in [the adjacent] highrise, [residents] could feel it on the 12th floor,” Billett said. “If you look at the walk-up behind that building, windows are blown out [and] cars have been burnt.”
Dan Rose with the City of Edmonton Historical Board said the building's owners were about to restore the site to its "former glory" as a boutique luxury apartment.
“This building was pretty special in that it was one of the last remaining apartment buildings of its style and of its age. In its day…it was definitely one of the luxury addresses downtown…it will be missed,” said Rose.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see it be destroyed when there are a lot of other buildings around town that certainly don’t get the [needed] attention,” he explained.
Fire crews remained on the scene Saturday dealing with hot spots.
No injuries were reported and investigators continue to search for a cause.