Crews contain fire at High River seniors' residence
Published Tuesday, December 15, 2015 7:18AM MST Last Updated Tuesday, December 15, 2015 6:58PM MST
Crews have contained a fire that broke out at a High River seniors' complex on Tuesday morning and will remain at the scene into the evening to monitor for hot spots.
Firefighters were called to the Medicine Tree Manor, on Macleod Trail at 9 Street, at about 5:00 a.m.
Crews from Okotoks, High River, Blackie, Black Diamond, and Cayley were all called in to help battle the fire.
There are no reported injuries and the building was unoccupied when the fire broke out.
One witness says the fire was a sad scene to watch. "I looked out on my patio and the fire trucks were here and there were flames 300 or 400 feet in the air. It was incredible to see but it was sad to watch," said Ron Barker.
Officials say about 20 residents of the nearby Soderberg House were evacuated to a nearby hotel as a precaution.
A two-block radius was blocked off to give crews room to work and 12 Avenue S.W. was reduced to one lane for a time.
Authorities say the sprinkler system hadn't yet been installed and there was a lot of open space in the structure, which allowed the fire spread quickly.
The building was heavily damaged and equipment has been brought in to take down sections of the building.
The complex, built back in 1960, was severely damaged in the 2013 flood.
Following that, administrators received $5M to rebuild the 52-unit seniors' facility which wouldn't have as many rooms, but would offer more spacious units and be able to handle residents who rely on walkers and wheelchairs to get around.
Fire officials are asking residents to avoid the area.
Other residents are concerned about the seniors who were looking forward to moving into the new facility. "It's just sad for the people who have been waiting. There was over 100 on the waiting list to get in there and now I don't know where they'll go again," said Barry Maynard, a resident who lives in the area.
The cause of the fire is still unknown and crews are expected to remain at the scene until well into the evening.
On Tuesday morning, Alberta Health Services issued an air quality advisory because of the smoke being emitted by the blaze.
Officials say that any individuals who are lviing or travelling in the Town of High River should be aware of the potential risks to their health that they may come across while in the area.
The smoke should not cause any difficulty for healthy individuals, but people with respiratory conditions or cardiovascular conditions may end up suffering from adverse symptoms.
Individuals can contact 811 for advice from registered nurse if they are experiencing difficulty coping.
The air quality advisory will remain in place until further notice.