Fire engulfs roof of historic Winnipeg building

A fire engulfed the roof of a Winnipeg historic high rise known as the Keewayden Building or the Crowley Building. It was built in 1909. (Steve Pacaud/Facebook)Winnipeg fire crews spent early Sunday dousing a blaze in an historic seven-storey building in the city’s downtown after flames engulfed the roof in the early morning. Firefighters were just after 2:30 a.m. called to the 110-year-old building at 138 Portage Avenue East, where they found heavy flames pouring out of the roof. Steve Pacaud had just left a downtown Winnipeg nightclub when he noticed the smoke near the intersection of Portage and Main and called 911.  “I was driving some people home from the Palomino Club. I was their designated driver. I saw some smoke coming from Portage and Main and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from,” said Pacaud, who captured video of the event. Firefighters searched the building to ensure no one was inside and spent hours battling the fire. “We had a complete roof fire with partial collapse into the elevator shaft, allowing the fire to come down into the basement,” Winnipeg fire-paramedic service assistant chief Service Jason Shaw said at the scene on Sunday. The building is still at risk of collapsing, he said Sunday morning before firefighters left the site. “Crews did make entry to see what they could do. The stairwells were full of smoke and heat, and with the heavy load of the fire on the roof, they retreated out,” he said. Instead, firefighters used aerial ladders, along with existing scaffolding, to fight the flames from the outside. They also used a drone and the police service chopper to direct crews. On Sunday morning, Winnipeg blocked off intersections east of the intersection of Portage and Main. Fire crews are still on the scene controlling a fire that engulfed the brick building. (Tyson Koschik/CBC) The seven-storey brick building is a municipally designated historic building known as the Keewayden Building or the Jacob-Crowley Building. Built for the Notre Dame Investment company in 1909, early tenants of the building included architects, the Austria-Hungary consulate and a cigar company. In 1928 it was sold to the Jacob-Crowley Manufacturing Company, which started out making women’s clothing. During the Second World War, the company made 75,000 garments for the Canadian army and navy. The building, designated in 2017, has an assessed value of $3.1 million, according to the City of Winnipeg’s website.. The Jacob-Crowley Building is a municipally designated historic building, which was once a garment factory. (Nathan Kramer/Manitoba Historical Society) Pacaud said it’s unfortunate to see a heritage building suffer so much damage. “This neighbourhood, as beautiful as it is being revitalized — and they’re building so many beautiful things — something historic is being taken apart,” he said. Steve Pacaud called the fire into 911 and shot video of the event. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

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