WATCH: Fire officials believe a cigarette butt caused a multi-million fire in west Edmonton Monday morning. Quinn Ohler reports.
EDMONTON – A fire ripped through a west Edmonton condominium early Monday morning, forcing about 400 people from their homes, and causing millions in damage.
“Early indications are that it’s a improperly disposed of smoking material,” said Edmonton District Fire Chief Don Cherniawski.
“It’s become a bit of a problem in the past. People don’t realize that these kind of things happen quite regularly.”
Edmonton Fire Rescue estimates the fire caused between $7 and $8 million dollars in damages.
As the sun came up, it became clear the roof in parts of the building was gone, leaving behind the charred remnants of trusses.
The fire began around 1:30 a.m. at Park Place South Hamptons, a four-storey condo building at 1520 Hammond Gate NW, which is located just off 199 Street and Lessard Road.
WATCH BELOW: Raw video from viewer Steve Kinney of the massive flames.
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Fire forces Edmonton condo evacuation
“Flames were coming through the roof upon arrival,” said Edmonton Fire District Fire Chief Trevor Whyte.
Fire was spotted going up from the fourth floor into the eaves and roof of the building. Crews began to attack the fire from inside, but the flames moved quickly.
“When they got us out, it was just a balcony on fire,” said Jonathan Brenton, who has lived in the building for over five years.
“I managed to snag my cat and myself and run out the door.”
“As soon as it got in the roof, it just started going everywhere,” Brenton added.
A second alarm was declared about 15 minutes after the first crew arrived.
“The ceilings were coming down on the guys inside. At that point it’s time to get out and try to cut your losses and contain the damage to as little as possible, without impacting the rest of the building,” Whyte said.
The fire was declared under control around 3:15 a.m.
“It was a hard-fought battle,” said Cherniawski.
“Due to the sort of limited access in to the area here, there was no access to the back of the building, so a lot of the fire fighting had to be done strictly through the front of the building here. The crews did a great job … containing the spread of that fire to the adjoining wings and containing it to the middle of the building.”
Whyte said the centre of building was heavily damaged.
“There doesn’t appear to be anybody unaccounted for, other than some pets the residents are concerned about, obviously,” Whyte said, adding there didn’t appear to be any injuries.
Buses were brought in for evacuated residents to sit in, and five volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross responded. The organization will provide food, clothing, shelter, support and information over the next 72 hours for those who need it.
WATCH BELOW: Residents unable to return home Monday night following fire
Red Cross volunteers have helped 72 residents impacted by the fire so far. The organization will continue to meet with those affected at an evacuation centre to do needs assessments and provide emergency support. Any residents affected by the fire who need Red Cross assistance can call 1-888-800-6493.
An information session for the residents will be held Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the River West Christian Church.
Representatives from the management company, insurer and Edmonton Fire Rescue will be in attendance.
Brenton is hoping for answers soon.
“Basically everybody that we’ve talked to told us it’s going to be a couple of days before we hear back, whether our suites are damaged or if we can even be allowed in there to take a look.”
“You always see it and are like, ‘ah yeah, that will never happen to me’ … and then you get up in the middle of the night and see your house on fire.”
WATCH BELOW: Raw video from a Global viewer taken a dawn, showing the aftermath of the early morning fire.
IN THE NEWS…
A little girl who was struck and killed in Leaside last week will be laid to rest today. The funeral service for seven-year-old Georgia Walsh will be held this afternoon at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor Street East.Rescuers retrieved more bodies Monday in the sprawling fields of east Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was downed, killing all 298 people aboard. A vote is expected later today by the U.N. Security Council on an Australia-proposed resolution demanding international access to the crash site and a cease-fire around the area.People who normally use Guelph Transit buses to get around will have to find another means of transport this morning. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1189 voted Sunday to reject a tentative contract agreement that was reached a week ago and endorsed by the union executive.The family of a Burlington, Ont. teacher detained in an Indonesian jail on allegations of child sexual assault has been trying to enlist Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to help win his release. Neil Bantleman, 45, was working as a learning co-ordinator at the Jakarta International School, a prestigious school popular with expatriate families.A Mississauga man accused of stabbing several office employees at his workplace in North York in April will make another court appearance today. Chuang Li is back in court following an extended psychiatric assessment.Mike Conway was the surprise winner of a collision-filled second race at the Honda Indy Toronto. Conway, a road- and street-course specialist, went to the pits early for new tires then stayed out on course as the leaders pitted to put him in position to win the 11-turn, 2.81-kilometre race at Exhibition Place on Sunday.
Mainly sunny. High 28 except 23 near Lake Ontario. UV index 9 or very high.
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TRAFFIC AND TRANSIT
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WATCH: Families of victims want action and answers on the return of their relatives’ bodies
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – It is no longer only grief and mourning sweeping across the Netherlands in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It is now anger.
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The Dutch have widely condemned the way the bodies of loved ones have been treated in Ukraine and the fact they have not yet been returned home, four days after Thursday’s tragedy.
In an unusual move that underscored the severity of the national trauma, a sombre King Willem-Alexander gave a brief televised address to his country after meeting grieving relatives near the central city of Utrecht.
Flight MH17: More bodies found in east Ukraine as UN vote looms
“This terrible disaster has left a deep wound in our society,” the king said. “The scar will be visible and tangible for years to come.”
Speaking after the same private meeting with hundreds of friends and relatives of the dead, Prime Minister Mark Rutte acknowledged the nation’s discontent.
“All of the Netherlands feels their anger,” Rutte said. “All of the Netherlands feels their deep grief. All of the Netherlands is standing with the next of kin.”
“No words can describe it,” said Silene Fredriksz-Hoogzand, whose son Bryce and his girlfriend Daisy Oehlers died on their way to a vacation in Bali. “Bodies are just lying there for three days in the hot sun. There are people who have this on their conscience. There are families who can never hold the body of a child or a mother.”
WATCH: Mother of Dutchman killed aboard Flight MH17 makes emotional plea
The downing of the Boeing 777 over eastern Ukraine on Thursday killed 298 passengers and crew, including 193 Dutch citizens.
Prosecutors in the Netherlands said they have begun a criminal investigation, though it remains unclear exactly where any suspects might be brought to justice.
A group of lawmakers hurried back from their summer recess for a meeting Monday with Rutte, who told them that getting the bodies home as soon as possible was his government’s top priority. He said a Dutch military transport plane is ready to repatriate the remains, which are now being stored in a refrigerated train in a rebel-held town.
“If the train finally gets going and the bodies get to Ukraine-controlled territory then we would prefer – and a Hercules is ready at Kharkiv airport – to get the bodies back to the Netherlands as soon as possible,” Rutte said.
READ MORE: Rebels move bodies of 196 MH17 crash victims to rebel-held town
One lawmaker, Gert-Jan Segers of the Christian Union, voiced the growing nationwide frustration.
“The Netherlands is grieving,” he said. “And angry.”
Right-wing lawmaker Louis Bontes urged the government to send special Dutch forces to secure the crash site.
“This messing around with our people can go on no longer,” he said. “Our people must be brought home now.”
Rutte said he has made it “crystal clear” to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he must use his influence with rebels to ensure unhindered access to the crash scene for international investigators. He says sanctions could be slapped on “those directly or indirectly responsible” for hindering the probe.
“All political, economic and financial options are on the table,” he said.
He also said he wants to ensure the perpetrators of the attack are brought to justice.
READ MORE: Canadian killed in MH17 crash was a medical student from Ontario
The Dutch national prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the downing of the flight, spokesman Wim de Bruin told The Associated Press.
“We are looking into allegations of murder, war crimes and downing a civilian passenger plane,” he said. The charges carry a maximum life sentence if proven in Dutch courts.
De Bruin said one Dutch prosecutor is already in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, to work with prosecutors there on the case.
There is no formal day of national mourning yet for the victims, but across the country local commemorations are being held.
A silent march was planned for Monday night in Rotterdam for a couple who ran a popular Chinese restaurant there. In Amsterdam, there were calls spread via social media to gather behind the city’s iconic Rijksmuseum to hold a minute of silence.
Fredriksz-Hoogzand said her grief for her son and his girlfriend was overwhelming.
“When I am in my bed at night, I see my son lying on the ground,” she told The Associated Press. “I see Daisy. I see Bryce. I see them in my head. I see it! They have to come home, not only those two. Everybody has to come home.”
King Willem-Alexander said all he and his wife Maxima could do was listen to the stories and be there for the relatives.
“We are deeply touched by the distressing personal stories of people who lost loved ones. People whose lives are shattered,” he said. “Their grief, powerlessness and desperation cuts to our souls.”
TORONTO – A little girl who was struck and killed in Leaside last week was laid to rest today.
The funeral service for seven-year-old Georgia Walsh was held Monday afternoon at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor Street East.
The girl died after being hit by a minivan while crossing the street at the corner of Millwood Road and McRae Drive.
At the centre of the memorial: A large picture of Georgia Walsh, and a msg of thanks to the community from family #TO pic.twitter杭州夜网/fWOS1XFsPA
— Mark Carcasole (@MarkCarcGlobal) July 21, 2014
Memorial for 6-year-old Georgia Walsh still growing. She’ll be laid to rest at funeral this afternoon. #TO pic.twitter杭州夜网/ZXzKq26bPb
— Mark Carcasole (@MarkCarcGlobal) July 21, 2014
READ MORE: Leaside residents consider traffic solutions after child’s death
Her father is federal Conservative Party president John Walsh.
The Walsh family issued a statement Monday saying the “outpouring of love” from the broader community speaks to the effect George had on people.
“We have felt overwhelmed with the support, kindness and prayer shared with us by so many. Georgia was a special girl and though her passing leaves a giant hole in our hearts and our lives, the outpouring of love in the last five days speaks to who she was,” the statement read.
The family asks in lieu of flowers that donations be made in her memory to the Sick Kids Foundation.
VIDEO: Fri, Jul 18: Nearest solution to traffic problem from City Hall is still a long time coming. Mark Carcasole reports.
VANCOUVER – Drivers servicing the country’s largest port urged government on Monday to take swift action against trucking companies, which they say aren’t living up to a deal hammered out last spring to end a strike.
More than 1,600 union and non-unionized truckers for Port Metro Vancouver went back to work in late March after negotiating an action plan that promised to improve job conditions.
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Three months later they’re still not getting paid what’s owed, say representatives who met with two levels of government to request an order-in-council making rates legal and binding for workers across the sector.
Unifor director Gavin McGarrigle, who represents about 400 drivers, said companies are “thumbing their nose” at the 14-point action plan devised to get cargo flowing again after drivers walked off the job for weeks.
“They have their wild west mentality and they just think that if there’s a loophole they’ll jump through it as quick as possible,” he told reporters after a nearly two-hour meeting with the federal and provincial transportation ministers.
“The trucking companies need to realize the days of game playing are over and its time to step up to the plate.”
Workers don’t want to withdraw services again, McGarrigle said, but noted members are still in a legal strike position.
Manny Dhillon, who represents about 1,200 members the United Truckers’ Association of B.C., said drivers have become increasingly frustrated over rates owed since early April.
“They’re pretty angry,” he said, arguing 12 of the action plan’s 14 points have not come to fruition. “It’s really getting hard to calm people down out there.”
The meeting was held two weeks after the representatives walked away from weekly two-hour talks that they contend were showing no progress, despite the March deal.
Even before Monday’s meeting, a spokeswoman for the federal transportation minister said in a statement that Lisa Raitt has been working with her provincial counterpart to ensure “the necessary steps” are taken to pay truckers. No detail on when or how that might happen was provided.
The truckers say other issues that have yet to be resolved include an oversupply of trucks in the industry, truck licencing problems and a concern the auditing system is not independent from the port.
But they also say some improvements have been made, including the p[ayment of more than $1 million in waiting fees and the outfitting of fleets with GPS systems.