Historic Windsor Hotel in Winnipeg Engulfed in Disastrous Fire, Prompting Citywide Precautions

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In the heart of downtown Winnipeg, a historic hotel was engulfed by a disastrous fire on Wednesday. This resulted in great plumes of smoke engulfing the skyline, necessitating road closures and triggering air quality warnings within the affected area. The Windsor Hotel, a century-old establishment on Garry Street, was the unfortunate setting for this incident.

First responders, including fire crews and ladder trucks, were seen rallying outside the burning structure, desperately directing jets of water onto the flames and struggling to suppress the spreading inferno. Thick, choking smoke rising from the site was a vivid reminder of the danger, visible throughout the surrounding area.

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One of the hotel’s walls succumbed to the extreme heat and tension at approximately 12:45 p.m., collapsing dramatically. In response, the Winnipeg Police Service issued a blunt advisory via social media, formerly known as Twitter, indicating that Fort and Garry streets at St. Mary Avenue had been closed. Motorists were urged to evade the area for their safety.

Shari Lough, who works across from the hotel, was among the first to notice smoke creeping from the northern side of the building at around 10 a.m. She quickly dialed 911. Within minutes, scores of fire trucks arrived. “It was just coming out of everywhere,” she lamented.

City officials have advised nearby residents to secure their homes against the smoke intrusion and monitor the air quality vigilantly.

During this incident, Coun. Sherri Rollins was chairing a committee meeting on short-term rentals at Winnipeg City Hall when news of the fire reached her. As air quality in the chamber deteriorated rapidly, the meeting had to be halted. The cause of the fire remains uncertain and Rollins, along with Mayor Scott Gillingham, city councilors John Orlinkow and Cindy Gilroy are waiting for updates. It is their shared ambition to encourage owners of vacant buildings to take responsibility for their security or consider demolition.

Constructed in 1903 as the Le Claire Apartments, the building, known for its popularity among blues and jazz artists, began its tenure as a hotel in 1930. The Manitoba Historical Society recalls its vibrant past. Sadly, the building has been vacant since March due to a health hazard order, and all its 25 residents had to be evacuated.

Mike Zaleski, a local resident, expresses his fond memories of attending live music concerts in the hotel before it was shuttered. He, like Lough, is saddened by the disaster but isn’t overly shocked given the property’s recent history.

Brent Cheater, WFPS Platoon Chief, shares that battling the blaze was a monumental task due to the toxicity from the ancient building materials. He reveals that structures built before the 1950s are fraught with chemicals, asbestos, poisonous paints and other harmful substances, all which could be unleashed by the fire. With hot spots challenging their efforts, it has been decided that the hotel must be demolished.

Cheater hints at the potential threat of someone being inside the building at the time of the fire, but confirms that firefighters have been unable to inspect the building due to the advanced stage of the fire. He comments, with resolve, that he isn’t willing to put his team at unnecessary risk in a vacant building.