‘It’s heartbreaking’: North side families reeling after fire destroys three


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Three homes were destroyed in a north Edmonton blaze but Shafeeq Weera says he’s just glad his step-daughter got out safely.

The 14-year-old was alone at home Friday when the neighbour’s house caught fire. Wind whipped up the blaze and neighbours went door to door to make sure everyone was out safe. It consumed three homes, four garages, damaged siding on several others and sent two people to hospital before firefighters were able to get it under control.

Firefighters don’t believe any of the injuries are life-threatening.

Weera is feeling grateful his family is safe.

“They’re good, they’re alive, and they’re not hurt,” he told Postmedia in an interview Saturday.

Weera, his wife and three children just moved into the house in Edmonton’s Klarvatten neighbourhood, near 85 Street and 179 Avenue, last month.

“It looks like some stuff might still be in the basement but it’s dangerous because the house is collapsed on top of it,” said Weera, who was on a work trip in Red Deer at the time of the fire. As for his step-daughter, “she’s doing OK,” he said. “Absolutely, it was very scary.”

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Eleven fire trucks with nearly 40 firefighters were called to the area Friday as high wind quickly spread flames from what appeared to be the garage of one home to the neighbouring homes to the north and south.

Four other homes suffered exterior heat damage to siding.

Ereddad Kharraz’s house was empty when the flames got to it. After getting a call from a neighbour, he rushed home from work to discover everything was gone.

“It’s heartbreaking. We lost a lot of things in the house,” he said.

Ereddad Kharraz lost his family’s home in a fire Friday. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
Ereddad Kharraz lost his family’s home in a fire Friday. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Neighbours who first spotted the fire called 911 around 1:30 p.m. Friday and immediately started knocking on doors to make sure everyone was out.

Courtney White, who lives a block away, said firefighters arrived quickly but on the windy afternoon it took very little time for the fire to jump from the garage to the first house.

“And it just quickly moved on to the next houses. I was scared the firefighters couldn’t even get it under control at that point,” she said.

“There were embers flying all over the place, landing in people’s backyards, starting fences on fire and decks.”

The fire was brought under control just after 2:30 p.m. As of Saturday morning, fire services spokesperson Matt Pretty said the cause was still undetermined.

District fire chief Todd Roberts said the outcome would have been different if it weren’t so windy.

“The wind was entirely the game player here,” he said on the day of the fire.

Both Kharraz and Weera’s families are staying in hotels for now while they wait to hear from their insurance. Kharraz said he wants to rebuild in the community.

“I want to stay here because my kids play together with friends,” he said, adding that his son has cried over the idea of not being able to do that anymore.

“It just breaks my heart.”

With files from Ian Kucerak

ajoannou@postmedia.com

twitter.com/ashleyjoannou

Fire damage is seen on a destroyed home at 85 Street and 179 Avenue in Edmonton on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Flames destroyed three homes and damaged others on Friday, May 28 in the city’s Klarvatten neighbourhood. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
Fire damage is seen on a destroyed home at 85 Street and 179 Avenue in Edmonton on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Flames destroyed three homes and damaged others on Friday, May 28 in the city’s Klarvatten neighbourhood. Ian Kucerak/Postmedia
A neighbour looks over fire damaged homes at 85 Street and 179 Avneue in Edmonton on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Flames destroyed three homes and damaged others on Friday, May 28, 2021, in the city’s Klarvatten neighbourhood. Ian Kucerak./Postmedia
A neighbour looks over fire damaged homes at 85 Street and 179 Avneue in Edmonton on Saturday, May 29, 2021. Flames destroyed three homes and damaged others on Friday, May 28, 2021, in the city’s Klarvatten neighbourhood. Ian Kucerak./Postmedia Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

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