A series of Christmas weekend fires worries a Winnipeg community activist – Winnipeg | PKBNEWS

A spate of fires over Christmas weekend has Winnipeg community activist Sel Burrows worried. He said he hoped to see more fire prevention efforts in the new year.

Between the evening of Dec. 24 and the morning of Dec. 25, a total of five major fires occurred, according to the city.

Notably, a fire shortly after 4 a.m. on Christmas Day in a six-story building on Qu’Appelle Avenue left 42 displaced and six people hospitalized, including three in critical condition.

“Well, that tells us that our older housing inventory is at risk,” Burrows said.

Burrows said he’s seen improvements even since the fall, with a task force working together to prevent fires in abandoned buildings, but the work far exceeds resources.


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“We have 2,000 vacant homes that need fixing, and a lot of those fires are there,” Burrows said.

The city told PKBNEWS this summer there were 64 fires in vacant buildings in 2021, more than double the previous year.

In 2023, Burrows wants to see these properties secured, including those owned by the city.

“The city’s real estate department does not follow the rules of the bylaws department. And so we had several (fires), at least two that I know of. Vacant city-owned homes burned down.


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Burrows also mentioned the fire hazard posed in winter when people try to heat older buildings.

“You have issues like when you hit 26 below and the landlord hasn’t kept the heat on, someone goes out and buys an old used heater that tips over at night and starts a fire.”

“The fire department has identified a major cause of fires. You know, when it’s really cold, people turn on their stoves, they turn on everything to try to keep warm, and the wires overload.


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“So those are two things the city needs to take the lead on to get the province to ban older radiators and work with hydro.”

Burrows hopes the city’s new mayor will provide desperately needed resources and programs for inner-city youth. “We can’t afford to have more downtown homes destroyed by fire.”

“We already have too many homeless people and it’s the marginalized who are living in these buildings and places that are burning.”

— With files by Iris Dyck of Global

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