Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

One dead after fire ravages Fleet Avenue home

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ONE person died in a fire that destroyed a home on Fleet Avenue, police confirmed Thursday.

Fire crews took hours to mop up after fighting the fire for much of the night, which delayed a search of the burned-out house.

Shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, police were able to confirm the fatality, but the identity of the deceased wasn't released.

Neighbours reported the house had one occupant -- a single woman -- but authorities are unlikely to release any additional information until autopsy results are completed.

Neighbours said earlier they hoped the woman who lived in the home was not at home.

"I hope nobody was inside, nobody can get out of there. It was huge, the flames," said neighbour Charlie Gatti, who called 911 at 1:45 a.m. and ran out with another neighbour to rouse the residents on either side of the burning house at 1228 Fleet Ave.

Gatti was dozing on his couch next to a front window that looks directly across to the house, when he was jolted awake by a blast, which sounded to him like two cars crashing. He looked out to see flames shooting out of the living room window straight up past the roof.

"I've never seen anything like this," Gatti said. He called 911 to report the fire, then ran outside. By that time, another neighbour was also out of his house.

The pair shot across the street, banging on the doors of homes adjacent to the house on fire, which they could not get near.

Neighbours down the back lane behind the house said earlier Thursday they believed the home was empty at the time. One neighbour said the woman who lived there had been seen leaving around 11 p.m. Wednesday, nearly three hours before the fire broke out.

Neighbours reported the home had been up for sale until last spring when a woman in her 50s moved into the place. She told neighbours she was renting the house.

Officials have estimated damage to the building at $225,000 and another $75,000 to contents.

The cause was undetermined Thursday, according to a city fire department spokesman.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 B1

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