Residents of a Kensington apartment building were told to quickly pack their belongings and evacuate after building inspectors raised concerns about the structure’s safety.
Fire crews were called to assist in the evacuation of 57 units at Kensington Manor on 10th Street N.W. around 4:30 p.m.
A building inspection completed earlier in the day identified structural concerns, and city officials decided to evacuate the building for the safety of the residents.
“After the inspection, it was found the building did have some structural issues. So the building is being evacuated,” a city spokesperson told Postmedia.
Some 125 residents were asked not to return home if they could avoid it, but to head straight to an information centre at Hillhurst Community School.
Thursday night, police blocked part of 10th Street N.W. while officials from the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and Calgary Transit assisted affected residents.
Some residents leaving the building said they were given just minutes to gather a few belongings and evacuate.
A note was distributed to each of the units informing residents about the evacuation, but many at the Kensington building Thursday evening said they only learned about the evacuation as they were returning home from work or school.
“I was coming from downtown,” said resident Anannya Biswas. “I see the roads blocked, I take the back alley and I am greeted by officers telling me that I have 10 minutes to evacuate.”
Biswas said she was told to pack enough to last two to four days, and said she planned to stay with friends.
“(I’m) stressed, obviously,” said Biswas. “It’s very sudden.”
Staff and managers at a Running Room store on the building’s ground floor loaded a truck with clothing, shoes and merchandise from the store Thursday evening.
“Everything the Running Room carries is being packaged up in record time,” said Running Room manager John Hrytsak.
“My thoughts are with the people that actually live in this building and are now out of their homes,” Hrytsak said. “We’re going to be fine. We just hope the rest of the community can help these people out.”
Some occupants of the building who spoke to Postmedia said they were aware there had been issues and repairs completed on the building previously.
“When I moved in February, (they) assured us that the balconies would be repaired by June and it’s December and we still don’t have access to balconies, so I knew something was up,” Biswas said, adding that building management had been “very supportive” throughout.
A spokesperson for the city said further evaluations will need to be completed on the building and they hoped to release more details Friday.