UPDATE: Health unit calls for evacuation of fire-affected building

A fire at a high rise in downtown Windsor has sent three people to hospital with smoke inhalation. Nov 12, 2019. (Photo by Paul Pedro)

The local health unit has called for the complete evacuation of a downtown Windsor high-rise due to a lack of power, water and heat.

A fire at the Westcourt Place building sent five people to the hospital with smoke inhalation and resulted in the voluntary displacing of over a hundred people. Three of the victims were tenants and two were firefighters. Now, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, has ordered a complete evacuation of the building.

Firefighters from Windsor Fire and Rescue are going door-to-door to inform residents of the evacuation order, according to a release Tuesday night from the city of Windsor.

“The first option of all residents is to find temporary accommodations with family or friends,” read the release. “For those who can’t make their own arrangements, the city and Red Cross are setting up a reception centre with cots and other supplies at the WFCU Centre. Residents from Westcourt Place are asked to come to the 400 building at 400 City Hall Square west as soon as possible to register for assistance.  They will then be transported by transit bus to the WFCU centre for the night.”

The city said crews from EnWin Utilities have been working long hours to restore power to the building, but it is unlikely the work will be finished and inspected by later Tuesday evening.

Windsor Fire Deputy Chief Andrea DeJong told Blackburn News the Westcourt Place fire call came in around 7 a.m. on Tuesday to the building at Chatham Street and Goyeau Street. DeJong said the fire started on the second level of the parking garage but it’s undetermined where it started or how it started.

Goyeau Street between Chatham Street and University Avenue will remain closed Tuesday night, but the area bound by University Avenue, Pitt Street, Ouellette Avenue, and McDougall Street was reopened late Tuesday afternoon.

Tammy Gosselin lives in the penthouse and told Blackburn News the fire was too early and too smelly.

“It was a pretty early morning for us. We woke up and we noticed we didn’t have any power and hung out for about 10-15 minutes before we realized something was going on. The smoke reached the top floor pretty quick,” said Gosselin. “We got dressed pretty quick and I got my dog dressed. My daughter and my boyfriend are at city hall. So, I’m stuck here with my dog on the bus and it’s warm in there.”

Gosselin said she left three cats behind and hopes they will be alright.

“I wish you could think quick in a situation like that to open up a window but I never did. So, I’m a little worried about them yeah,” Gosselin said.

The Provincial Offences Offices are closed until Wednesday.

The fire was out by 11 a.m. The damage amount is still being estimated.

People with vehicles stuck in the garage can get directions from security staff in the lobby of the 400 building.

A joint police and fire command vehicle along with half a dozen fire trucks, several fire command vehicles, ambulances, and police cruisers responded to the blaze.

-With files from Mark Brown