Residents evacuated in morning blaze
Tenants head back into fire to rescue cat

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 21/97) -Two Yellowknife residents were treated at Stanton Regional Hospital Wednesday night after one of them went back into their burning apartment to rescue the family cat.

When firefighters arrived at Rockcliff Apartments on 54th Avenue at 1:30 a.m., tenants were evacuating as the three-storey building quickly filled with smoke.

Two occupants of a third-floor apartment -- where the fire started -- pulled the fire alarm to alerted the building's other tenants. One of them then went back inside the apartment in an unsuccessful attempt to get their pet, which did not survive the blaze.

One tenant, who stood outside as smoke poured out a broken window on the top floor, said that both people were lucky they weren't more seriously injured.

Deputy fire chief Mike Lowing agreed that heavy smoke conditions could have led to more injuries.

"There was a lot of thick, black, acrid smoke that can be very toxic," he said. "Smoke in any house fire is brutally unhealthy. It takes your life away with every breath."

Lowing said some of the residents on the third floor, where there was thick smoke, are staying in hotel rooms provided by Mackenzie Management. A security guard watched over their apartments overnight while firefighters cleaned up and assessed the damage. The other tenants -- between 30 and 50 -- were allowed back into their apartments after an hour and a half.

Lowing said the fire is classified as accidental but firefighters are still investigating the cause.

The initial fire loss is estimated at $25,000 in building damage and $20,000 for personal contents, Lowing said.

Fifteen firefighters, two pumpers, the rescue truck, two ambulances and a command unit answered the call.