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Crews were first called to the scene at 11:00 p.m. last night and as of 10:00 a.m. this morning were still pouring water on a fire at a housing complex on Furby Street in Winnipeg.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci is the pastor of Little Flowers, a community church that meets just down the street and is heavily involved in the community. He said he wasn't surprised to hear sirens in his West End neighbourhood last night, "but we certainly didn't expect to wake up the next morning to see them still fighting the blaze."

At least six tenants of the building were taken to hospital with injuries overnight, and virtually everyone from the building now finds themselves homeless as second-hand accounts say the building is a complete loss. 

Arpin-Ricci says that this fire is doubly tragic, that will affect the neighbourhood and others in search of affordable housing. "In the specific loss of homes and property in this story is tragic enough, let alone the injuries. But the fact that we are losing housing in this neighbourhood -- it was a place that was more affordable in this neighbourhood -- to lose housing in this neighbourhood that's affordable is really tragic as it continues to disappear."

furby fire3Crews continue to pour water on the fire nearly 12 hours after first being called to the scene.Arpin-Ricci says that he's heard of people in the neighbourhood wanting to help, but as for now, there's no way to contact the people that have lost their homes. "Part of the problem is the worst of it happened in the dead of night. The people were put on a transit bus to keep warm . . . but it wasn't long before people in the night just left."

The scene in the neighbourhood this morning is surreal, according to Arpin-Ricci. "Trees and buildings are covered in hanging icicles that are 10 or 15 feet long. The streets and the back lane are flooded probably with over a foot of water." Arpin-Ricci says that neighbouring buildings are also damaged. "The ice and water is just unreal."

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West End fire shuts down streets