Word of 'possible imminent building collapse' triggers evacuation of Calgary apartment block

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Tenants of evacuated Kensington apartment block can go in to get belongings, city says

Read the latest developments: Hastily evacuated Kensington apartment block needs fixes affecting every floor, city says

Residents of a seven-storey apartment block in Calgary's Kensington area came home Thursday to a sign on the door that said "do not occupy, with officials telling them they had 15 minutes to pack some belongings and evacuate the building.

Emergency crews were called to Kensington Manor in the 300 block of 10th Street NW for a call of a "possible imminent building collapse," a fire spokesperson said.

About 125 people were forced to flee the building.

The building had previously known structural issues that had to do with its balconies.

Wayne Brown, with the city's Coordinated Safety Response Team, said the owner hired a professional engineer to investigate, who found additional structural issues with the building.

The decision was made to evacuate the building around 2 p.m., Brown said.

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Members from Calgary fire, police and the Calgary Emergency Management Agency were on hand to assist in the building's evacuation.

A spokesperson for the fire department said the initial call was for a "possible imminent building collapse," however the city said while the building is not safe to live in, it has not been condemned.

"I don't think it's an emergency as in, I don't think we have imminent danger of failure. But it's in bad shape," Brown said. "Without being properly shored and repaired, there could be some issues."

Tenants given 15 minutes

After being told of the evacuations, residents were allowed into the building for 15 minutes — just long enough to pack a suitcase.

An information centre was established at the Hillhurst Community School for the displaced tenants. They were told in a meeting with the building's property manager they would not be allowed back into the building to pick up their belongings for at least two weeks.

According to people at the meeting, the property manager told them he believed the building would not be suitable for occupation again for at least six months.

"I have to find a new place to live and they only gave me my meagre damage deposit to go on my merry way," said Kensington Manor resident Micah Lukasewuich.

The 60-unit building also houses a few retail businesses, including the Running Room, whose employees were allowed to remove some of the store's merchandise. 

The information centre for building residents is set up at the Hillhurst Community School at 1418 Seventh Ave. N.W.

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