WINNIPEG —; One female was sent to hospital for smoke inhalation after an apartment fire in the city’s West End.
Fire fighters rushed to 686 Toronto Street Monday morning where they found flames coming out of the south side of the 3-storey building.
While emergency personnel were on scene a 16-year-old male came froward and confessed to starting the fire. He is charged with arson disregard for human life, arson damage to property and possession of incendiary materials.
Platoon Chief Frank Leswick told Global News the smoke was a challenge.
“It was very thick, very black, very heavy. The boys couldn’t see at all. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face,” said Leswick.
WATCH: Platoon Chief breaks down response to serious fire Monday morning
Emergency crews quickly called for a transit bus to keep residents warm after the building was evacuated, while they worked to track down the fire in a suite. Everyone made it out okay, but residents describe the experience as chaotic.
“I came and grabbed my baby and I grabbed everything I could for her and came down the back stairs,” said Amber Vosper, who was sleeping inside when the fire broke out in a basement suite. “All I grabbed was 4 bottles for her.”
Residents were scrambling to organize getting their pets out of the building. One cat died in the blaze.
The damage has been estimated at $400,000.
Neighbors say some of the residents had no shoes on when the fire forced them out.
“We saw a few people with babies and cats and everything. And they hardly had any clothes on,” said Andrew Hermkens, who took some of them in to warm up and use his phone.
The arson unit is investigating.