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Fire crews battle blaze at huge home on Wellington

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Firefighters battle a blaze at 1021 Wellington Cres. Sunday morning.

DAREN JORGENSON Enlarge Image

Firefighters battle a blaze at 1021 Wellington Cres. Sunday morning.

A recently-redesigned Wellington Crescent mansion suffered damage fire officials estimate is $5 million, but no one was injured, after a massive blaze broke out inside the home before the sun came up this morning.

A large contingent of fire crews, police and other emergency responders were called to 1021 Wellington Cres. around 6:20 a.m. to battle what appeared to be a very stubborn blaze that tore through the roof.

"We're very much shaken right now," the home's owner, Karl Dornetshuber, said in a brief telephone interview from Edmonton, where he, his wife and children were this weekend for a trip.

"There might be nothing left," Dornetshuber said.

The family moved into the home in 2009 — it was a "dream house" for them, he agreed. Dornetshuber added he'd been in contact with Winnipeg police Sunday morning and was making attempts to try and get home right away.

Dornetshuber said he was "very relieved" no one appeared to be hurt. The family immigrated to Canada from Austria in 2009, according to neighbours.

Winnipeg police said there were no apparent injuries and a financial estimate of damage was not yet available. Arson Strike Force members were called to the blaze for their investigative skills and not because the fire has been deemed suspicious.

"By no means are we identifying this as an arson," Const. Jason Michalyshen said.

Fire officials have not yet stated a cause. As of noon, crews remained at the scene and continued to try to snuff out the fire. A large perimeter was set up, blocking access to the crescent between Montrose and Ash streets.

Neighbour Daren Jorgenson expressed relief nobody was hurt, and indicated the damage to the family's home was very sad to see.

The home was completely renovated in 2009 and "thoroughly modernized" on the inside, according to an online design profile from Winnipeg-based Syverson Monteyne Architecture.

"This massive investment of time and energy was motivated by the new owner’s desire to make a comfortable and stylish home for his young family in Canada. Immigrating to Canada from Europe, the new residents brought their sense of style as well as several containers full of construction materials, furniture, and fixtures," the profile said.

"The existing house was stripped down to the studs to allow the new additions to be well-integrated," said the firm.

The mansion, given its stately history, has made the news several times over the last decade. In September 2004, it was featured in the Free Press when it landed on the market for what was a massive listing price at the time.

"The home has through the years been owned by some of the most wealthy of Winnipeg's citizens, families with the names of Sures, Smith, Peterson, Halter, Sifton and Asper," Gloria Taylor wrote.

It was then priced for sale at $1.9 million — at a time when the most anyone had ever paid for a Manitoba home was $1.7 million.

"The house was built by Lount Construction in 1933. At the time, a good part of the crescent on the banks of the Assiniboine River, in what was always pricey real estate when compared with other parts of the city, had already been built up," wrote Taylor.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM CST: Adds quote from owner

12:07 PM: Link to photos added in sidebar.

12:33 PM: full write through

12:56 PM: spelling error corrected

4:35 PM: damage estimate added

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