Update 1:57 a.m., May 7
This is a breaking news item. Read the full story here.
Fire crews from all three stations in St. Albert are battling a large fire at the Citadel Mews West retirement home in northern St. Albert tonight.
Video and photos posted of the fire show the roof of the building on Erin Ridge Road engulfed in flames.
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron, in a Facebook Live post that ended at 9:43 p.m., said from the scene of the fire she had spoken to firefighters who were battling the blaze who confirmed that so far there has been no confirmed loss of life.
"It's one of the biggest fires we've ever seen," said the mayor, with emergency vehicles in the background of the video. She encouraged residents offering to help to hold tight.
"At this point all we need right now is prayers," Heron said.
She said firefighters she spoke to are unsure what sparked the fire in the Erin-Ridge area complex just behind the Sturgeon Community Hospital.
St. Albert Coun. Natalie Joly posted on social media about the fire, noting the city's chief administrative officer had sent her the following message: "Emergency social services supporting. If they need anything they will put the call out. They are well equipped. Don't need vehicles and people in the area, give room to work, keep access open for first responders."
Hundreds of people lined St. Albert Trail and crowded into the parking lots surrounding the building. Plumes of smoke could be seen from kilometres away.
Elderly residents and evacuees lined the sidewalks and the grassy areas in wheelchairs and stood watching as staff and family tended to them with blankets and water. The lineup of wheelchairs was almost a block long. They watched in silence and shivered in the wind until a giant EMS medical bus arrived to transport them away from the scene.
David Niebach, owner of the Herc's Nutrition down the street from the burning building said lots of the Citadel Mews residents who were evacuated were waiting at his store. Some were waiting for St. Albert Transit buses to arrive to take them to a safe location. Others were waiting for loved ones.
"We heard they are going to lose the building," he said.
Niebach said he received an email from Kepler Academy in the building next door that they will be closed Friday due to damage from the fire.
More to come ...