McGillivray Boulevard fire under control, officials trying to determine cause

Fire crews are still on the scene of a large fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon.

The fire chief for the RM Macdonald, Mike Siemens, told CTV News Thursday that crews are still dealing with hot spots in the area.

Siemens said the fire was deemed under control around 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

He said firefighters were originally called to the area around 1 p.m. Wednesday and, when they first arrived on scene, crews found a severed natural gas line.

"So that presented a huge problem with the fire load. The escaping natural gas ignited and we didn't put that out, because if we do then the building will explode later. So we just had to let the natural gas burn," said Siemens.

He added that Hydro eventually made it to the scene and they were able to turn of the gas.

There were several crews called to the fire including from Headingley, Winnipeg and the Town of Morris.

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said it provided support until just after 2:30 a.m. and those crews provided water supply services, shuttled water and used a drone to "maintain situational awareness."

Siemens said, at first, those on scene had control of the fire but he noted there was a heavy fire load which made it difficult to prevent the fire from spreading to other businesses.

"With the heavy fire load, the fire just kept extending inwards into other businesses. A ladder was set up to protect portions of the business that were not affected by the fire initially. But the fire load on the inside, again, the fire just kept spreading on the interior, broke through the roof."

He said no employees at any of the businesses were injured but two firefighters had to be treated for heat exhaustion during the fire fight.

Siemens said traffic has been reopened and investigators are now on scene to try and determine what caused the blaze.

The RM of Macdonald is also telling residents that a lot of water was used to fight the fire yesterday and people are being asked to reduce their water use.

BUSINESSES DEVASTATED BY FIRE

Jennifer Sabourin is the owner of Spartans Gymnastics, which was one of the businesses destroyed in the fire.

Sabourin said it is a fairly new business as they have been open for three years.

She said she first found out about the fire while visiting her dad.

"My husband was panic-calling me," she said. "He thought I was at the gym."

She added, they lucked out in a sense, as the business is always closed this week as it's just before summer camps, so no one was in the building.

Sabourin said her business has been completely destroyed.

"There's nothing left … It looks like a rubble pile."

She said her and her husband have put so much time into their business and it's painful, but what makes it worse is how this will affect the kids.

"There are so many kids, competitive kids, that are trying to train and make Team Manitoba. We have nowhere for them to go."

Despite the bad news, Sabourin said they have been offered a different space to use temporarily and kids are lending some of their supplies to help the facility.

Joey Walker is the owner of Pool Pros, which is where the fire originated.

He said there were over eight employees in his business when the fire broke out.

Once he got outside, he said it was already "a huge blaze."

"It was very quick and very violent," said Walker.

"I feel terrible for everyone in the building. It's really tough."

Walker said some temporary locations have already been set up and business will continue as much as possible, which includes maintenance calls at customers' homes.