Derelict buildings in Winnipeg pose major risks to communities, first responders – Winnipeg
Hundreds of buildings around Winnipeg that are empty and dilapidated are not only ulcers on the eyes, but also security risks for communities.
“The problem has gotten worse,” said Staff Sgt. That’s what Rob Duttchen told Global News.
It has become overwhelming for Winnipeg’s police, fire and city officials to work together to protect the 615 properties covered by the Vacancy Ordinance.
The properties are a growing concern for the city of Winnipeg and the residents living next door.
Tracy Ball lives in Old Kildonan and says she’s been calling the city and emergency services for months about an abandoned building next to her home. It went up in flames last week.
“I stood there and said, ‘My 26-year-old house is going up and it was completely preventable,'” she said.
Ball said it was her worst nightmare that happened in front of her own eyes and she fears it will happen again.
“There’s another house closed, another beyond this, now dilapidated and boarded up,” Ball said. “We’re afraid it’s going to go up too.”
READ MORE: Winnipeg’s Abundance of Abandoned, Dilapidated Homes a Safety Concern, Report Says
These vacant and dilapidated buildings are taking over streets and causing serious problems in some neighborhoods. They have become shelters for the homeless and targets for arsonists.
In a broken-down building during a Global News drive with police, firefighters and law officials, a man high on meth and in possession of more drugs was arrested and found crouching in a burned-out building.
“As soon as I saw the two doors (didn’t get in) I thought someone would be here,” Duttchen said.
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“In some cases we find the building as fast as we can, people see us leave and try to get back into the building.”
Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said they see one or two fires in vacant buildings every week.
There were more than 60 fires in dilapidated buildings in 2021, an increase of 58 percent from 2018.
“It’s grown significantly in recent years and it’s opportunistic,” Asst says. said Chef Scott Wilkinson.
The police and fire brigade often deal with the same buildings over and over again.
“The police have been here many times over the years,” Wilkinson said as he stood in front of a boarded-up building in the North End. “We’ve had two or three fires in this building since the original fire and it’s getting fired over and over and the fires keep coming.”
Many are surrounded by waste that has been illegally dumped and discarded furniture that is also a fire hazard.
“(It) can spread to the building, and if it spreads to this building, it can spread to the building next door,” Wilkinson said.
It poses a risk not only to people living in the area, but also to emergency services who are called in to respond when there are problems in the property, be it illegal and criminal activity or a fire.
In the past five years, the city said firefighters have been injured fighting fires in these types of properties.
READ MORE: Winnipeg on track to see 80% rise in vacant building fires, by city numbers
In one case, police said the building in question had recently burned down, with the fire scorching through the floorboards, causing a 30-foot drop to the basement that wouldn’t be visible if there was smoke inside.
A fire started near a staircase in a building on Main and Euclid and now it has become a place for miscreants. The police are concerned about what could happen if there is a problem in the basement.
‘How do we get down safely? How do we get that person out?” said the Dutch. “What does the structural integrity look like if the stairs are already burned out?”
As police, firefighters and city officials work on a concerted approach to listing properties and devising better solutions, it can’t happen soon enough for those who live near one of those buildings.