Skip to main content

More than 100 people displaced by fire at McKenzie Towne condo building


More than 100 people are without a home following an overnight fire at a McKenzie Towne condo building.

Firefighters responded to Prestwick Villas SE condo complex just after 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Manny Calabrese lives on the fourth floor of the building, at the opposite end of where the fire started.

He says he, his wife, daughter and dog were able to escape the building after hearing the alarms ring.

"A friend gave me some (clothes), but no, we have nothing," he said. "I just (took) my wallet, luckily, but the rest, I left everything there."

"I feel destroyed; I lost everything, because I put all my money, all my stuff in this apartment. I have all my furniture, all my stuff is gone."

Calabrese says he has insurance on the apartment he owned, but is unsure what happens next and where his family will stay.

"You never see so much fire like this, even the fire guys said, 'I've never seen something like this, that big.'"

Firefighters arrived at the building five and a half minutes after the initial 911 call.

They arrived to find significant smoke and flames coming from a third-floor balcony.

The Calgary Fire Department says flames quickly spread across the entire roof, prompting them to call a second alarm to bring more crews to the scene.

"The walls have kind of sunken in on the sides, we can't even open doors without forcible entry," said deputy fire chief Deb Bergeson.

"We have to be super sensitive to the safety of our folks who are in that building right now. We're assessing as we proceed through that third and fourth floor, in particular, making sure that it's safe enough, and then we're doing a very detailed comb of all of those suites that were most impacted."

Officials blame the windy conditions from the north for fueling the flames, helping the fire spread quickly.

Crews attacked the blaze from the ground and from above using aerial apparatus.

Firefighters also tried extinguishing it from inside after finishing searching the building.

Exposure lines were used by crews to protect the condo building on all sides, ensuring the damage was limited to just one building.

Dylan Koe witnessed the fire start and says he urged residents to get out.

He says he saw the man in the unit where the fire originated try to put the fire out, but it spread too quickly to stop.

"The guy came out, he tried to use his fire extinguisher to put the blaze out, burned his fire extinguisher up, used it and took away maybe half of the fire that was sitting on his deck," said Koe.

"As soon as it hit the siding, it just climbed the walls, went right across the roof."

One resident of a nearby building said you could hear explosions while the fire was burning.

"It was less than seven minutes from the corner to the entrance of the building," said Barb Davies. 

"The top floor is gone, the third floor is done as well, and the first and second gone too. (I think) this will be a construction site for the next (while)."

The condo building has 48 units, all of which were evacuated.

In a social media post, Ward 12 Coun. Evan Spencer said more than 100 people were impacted by the fire, and while there were no injuries, it's likely that several pets perished in the blaze.

Spencer gave thanks to the tireless efforts of the Calgary Fire Department in fighting the fire, and said the focus now needs to be supporting the victims.

"If you are a local community group looking to support, the Red Cross is providing emergency management coordination until at least on June 27, and we would be happy to help connect your efforts to theirs," Spencer wrote Monday.

He said a Calgary emergency animal shelter, Parachutes for Pets, has already stepped up to help by housing five pets in need of hospital care.

Those looking to donate funds to pay for those costs can contact the organization directly.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Top Stories

Stay Connected