One of Lethbridge’s historic buildings will soon be nothing but rubble.
The Van Haarlem Hospital Apartments building at 1224-7 Ave. S. caught fire this morning at 6 a.m., as emergency crews are still on scene dealing with the large structure.
Brian Cornforth, chief of the Lethbridge Fire Department, said 30 crew members are working to contain the blaze, in a building he described as a low-income, transition home, with an occupancy of upwards of 20 people. Three people had initially been sent to hospital, while five other residents were unaccounted for. The City of Lethbridge, in a press release, now says all known occupants are accounted for.
“We have lots of people who lost everything, and that’s really sad for them,” said Cornforth.
The fire chief added the challenge this morning is for firefighters to gain access to the interior of the building, where crews need to attack the fire.
“We’ll likely need to bring in some heavy equipment,” he said, as he added he did not want to put firefighters in danger, however, as the building is likely to collapse. “This is going to take some time to get knocked down.”
The chief went on to say the building would be lost, and the investigation into the cause of the fire will take some time.