Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fire can't stop taxman for long

Blaze at tax centre minor, information safe

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A stubborn fire at the Winnipeg Taxation Centre forced the evacuation of dozens of employees Saturday, but don't worry: the staff and all income tax returns are safe.

And no one was injured in a downtown fire that caused a 23-storey apartment building to be evacuated.

The apartment blaze, which broke out just after 4 p.m., caused more than $100,000 damage to the The Chateau York at 134 Smith St.

"It was scary to be on the 17th floor and look out and see smoke below," tenant David Jacks said.

"There is a smoky smell in our apartment so it must be through the whole building."

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Capt. Greg Campbell said dozens of people were safely evacuated.

"Two pets were rescued -- a cat and a snake," he said.

Campbell said the fire originated in an eighth-floor suite, but the cause had yet to be determined and was still under investigation.

Three Winnipeg Transit buses were brought in for evacuated residents.

Shortly before 6 p.m. residents on certain floors were allowed to return to their suites.

The taxation centre blaze broke out in the front entrance of 66 Stapon Rd., where construction crews are doing renovation work.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic platoon chief Albert Sigfusson said no one was injured.

Sigfusson said the fire was a stubborn one to battle because it was underneath the concrete floor and firefighters couldn't get right at the source to attack it. He said firefighters had to use construction workers' tools to open the space up.

"We are going to pour foam into a space in the floor," he said.

The fire broke out about 9:55 a.m., and emergency crews quickly began ventilating the smoke outside to protect the tax records and computers inside.

Sigfusson said because the fire was at the front entrance firefighters didn't have to worry about privacy concerns with confidential tax records.

The fire was finally put out at about 1:30 p.m.

Kevin Lloyd, a Canada Revenue Agency spokesman, said 85 employees processing 2012 income tax returns were evacuated to the nearby Kildonan Place mall.

"We sent the staff home that were evacuated," Lloyd said.

"They'll be back on Monday... there was no damage or loss to any of our assets and tax information."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 3, 2013 A3

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