Crews fight back-to-back blazes at Vulcan Iron Works site in Point Douglas

Winnipeg fire crews found themselves rushing early Saturday to put out separate fires at a North Point Douglas troublespot that’s been the scene of several blazes over the last year. 

City officials said firefighters were called to the former Vulcan Iron Works — a multi-storey industrial building on Sutherland Avenue between Maple Street N. and Argyle Street N. —  just after 1 a.m., and again shortly after 5 a.m.

In the earlier fire, crews found smoke and flames coming from the building, and used an aerial ladder truck to fight it. It was under control just after 2 a.m., city officials said in a press release. 

Less than three hours later, crews returned to find another blaze, which they had under control by 6:11 a.m., officials said. 

There were no injuries in either fire and the causes are under investigation, the city said.

The historic iron works building was gutted by a fire in July 2023, leaving a partially collapsed structure and piles of rubble. Another blaze in September further damaged it. There have been several other fires there since then. 

After the July fire, city inspectors found the site to be a safety hazard and ordered owner Sheldon Blank to demolish and clean up what remained. 

The city has been working with the site’s owner on the demolition of the remains of the site. An appeal hearing is slated for June 17. 

The city had ordered the site levelled by Dec. 4, 2023, but work has been unable to move forward due to a provincial workplace health and safety order that any demolition must mitigate the risk of asbestos contamination by soaking the debris before removing it. 

That work adds to the cost of demolition, and was made practically impossible by the freezing temperatures over winter, Blank said in April.

Documents Blank has filed with the city show he’s spent thousands of dollars on security guards and fencing at the site. Logs from security staff note they’ve encountered a large number of trespassers. 

Fire at partially demolished Logan Avenue structure also reported

Firefighters also extinguished a blaze at a vacant Anco Lumber facility on Logan Avenue after being called there at 5:29 a.m. They found smoke coming from inside a structure, with visible flames on the interior. 

The industrial-commercial building was previously damaged in a fire last August and was partly demolished as a result, the city said in an afternoon news release. 

An exterior shot of a building that has been badly damaged by a fire.
The Anco Lumber building, seen here in the immediate aftermath of the fire that destroyed it last August, was once again the scene of a fire Saturday morning. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Logan Avenue between Arlington Street and McPhillips Street was being kept closed until crews fighting the fire cleared the scene, the city said. 

People were being asked to avoid the area. 

Rail traffic on an adjacent track was stopped as a precaution, said the city. 

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire was under investigation.