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Moose Jaw apartment building evacuated due to safety risks

Residents of a Moose Jaw apartment building were cleared out in an emergency evacuation due to multiple safety risks, according to the city.

City officials, along with Moose Jaw firefighters and police conducted an inspection of the building – located on the corner of Stadacona Street and 1st Avenue N.W. – on Monday.

“The safety issues with that building just warranted us to shut it down,” Moose Jaw Fire Chief Rod Montgomery said in a news conference on Tuesday. “Not only fire issues, there was building infractions, electrical issues and certainly gas. When we went there yesterday we did discover a gas leak.”

The leak was so serious that utilities to the building were shut off.

“So to some degree we were very lucky as gas was building up in a place and the inspector shut the gas completely off,” Montgomery said. “We’re fortunate that it happened because it could’ve been a lot worse.”

Inspectors found windows that couldn’t be opened, deteriorating flooring on fire escapes, suites that did not have doors or locks, and accumulation of combustibles, some of which blocked emergency exits.

Smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and pull stations were not functioning according to Montgomery.

“Certainly one of the number one concerns that triggered the evacuation was we couldn’t let people sleep in there at night knowing that they had no means to perhaps be alerted to the situation or to get out of the building,”

The building was made up of 18 units with two units vacant at the time of the evacuation. According to Moose Jaw Police Service Chief (MJPS) Rick Bourassa, an estimated 24 people were permanent residents.

“It was a fairly mobile population … so there were a lot visitors who would come and go from there,” he said. “Our members were there many, many times.”

In the first six months of 2023, officers responded to 107 situations at the building.

“Many of them involved people struggling to just cope, many of them involved conflicts that couldn’t be resolved and we had to assist with and some of them involved criminal activity,” Bourassa explained.

The city said people living in the building have been offered help to immediately relocate through social services.

“The John Howard Society is offering additional support with hygiene packs, food and clothing donations and the Moose Jaw Housing Authority is providing applications for available housing,” a news release from the city read.

“Anyone wishing to make a donation can drop off items at the John Howard Society at 15 Hochelaga Street West and donations will be sorted by size and handed off to those in need."

According to Bourassa, all of the residents voluntarily accepted to move.

“From what I’ve seen from our members, who are just finishing up, it all went very well," he said. "People are now in better circumstances than they were before.” Top Stories

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