‘The only fire escape was the window,’ says woman rescued from Furby apartment blaze

Flames shoot through the roof of an apartment building on Furby Street Tuesday. (Submitted by Matt Gillies)

A Winnipeg mom huddled with her boys in a back bedroom of their Furby Street apartment Monday night, convinced they would never make it out.

Nancy McIvor says she’s glad to be alive after the blaze destroyed their building at 489 Furby St.

Her nephew Dylan, 23, and her sons Lester, 19, and Dwight, 20, huddled in Dwight’s bedroom after the fire broke out at 11 p.m. Monday, staring at the window, wondering if they might have to jump.

“We were that desperate to save our lives,” McIvor said Tuesday night. “We thought we were gonna die.”

McIvor said when her son woke her up the apartment was already thick with smoke.

“We couldn’t even see each other, that’s how bad the smoke was. We were just feeling each other … to go to the back room,” she said.

Their third-floor suite was above the second-floor apartment where the fire broke out, and they couldn’t reach the closest door as a result. The hallways were too full of smoke for them to attempt to navigate to either staircase.

Dwight’s room had the least smoke, so they all huddled there.

“I felt like, that’s the end of us. Because we were trapped. There was no way out,” she said.

“We were just running around with our heads cut off,” she said. “There was no fire escape, anywhere. The only fire escape was the window, to jump out the window.

“At that moment, it was life and death,” she said. “There was four lives to be saved — five lives, my Lucky too,” she said, referring to her cat.

he McIvors’ cat, Lucky, hasn’t been seen since the fire. (Submitted by Lester McIvor)

“We were just screaming out the window, ‘Help! Help!'”

Firefighters called back, asked what suite they were in and found them in Dwight’s room.

“They came and got us, like a chain,” McIvor said.

They were four of six people rescued from the third storey of the building. Six others trapped inside made it out on their own.

They were all treated for smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide toxicity. The city said Tuesday that three people were sent to hospital — one in unstable condition, two stable.

Lucky the cat is still missing. McIvor was told the building is likely to be condemned and she won’t be allowed inside to look for the cat.

They also won’t be able to salvage any of their belongings — McIvor’s guitar, her pictures of her mom and dad, “my values, that I call treasures — things you can’t replace,” she said.

Then there’s their winter gear — clothes other than the ones on their backs.

“We have nothing — no clothes, nothing to change into, we still smell like fire,” McIvor said Tuesday night.

“Starting all over again, it’s hard. You’ve got to buy pepper, salt.… We need underwear, socks — we have nothing. Everything’s gone to flames.”

They four of them are crammed into her sister’s one-bedroom apartment down the street on Furby. McIvor said she’s been thinking so hard about her next steps it feels like “my head is going to explode.”

She’s not sure how they’ll pay for a new place or what they will need to fill it, and is hoping the Christmas season will encourage people to help them out.

Fire crews set up ladders
When crews first arrived, there were people leaning out of the third-floor windows and heavy flames on the second floor, acting district Chief Ted McDougall told CBC.

​”People were living above that fire suite and they couldn’t get down normally, so fire crews set up ladders and got them out of there,” he said.

After searching through all floors for any more people, firefighters were ordered out. They initially tried to contain the flames to the second-level suite but it spread to the third floor.

Damage to the building is so extensive it will need to be demolished, McDougall said.

The building next door, 485 Furby St., also was evacuated as large amounts of smoke poured into it, along with some water.

On Tuesday, City of Winnipeg spokesperson Michelle Finley said 16 people from both buildings were housed in a hotel Monday night.

A city transit bus was brought in to shelter evacuees. Some had to stay there for several hours.

“Residents who were on the bus for an extended period of time were primarily from the adjacent building at 485 Furby St.,” Finley said in an email.

“At 3 a.m., it became apparent they would not be able to return to their apartments. It was at that time that preparations began to move people who could not stay with family or friends, to a hotel with the assistance of the Red Cross.”

Source: CBC News Posted: Dec 05, 2017 7:55 PM CT Last Updated: Dec 05, 2017 9:31 PM CT