49 displaced, 2 injured after apartment fire in Tataskweyak Cree Nation, Man.

A 17-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy were airlifted to Winnipeg after they were injured in an apartment fire on Tataskweyak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba Saturday in a blaze that left 49 people displaced.

The fire started around 1:30 p.m. at an eight-unit apartment that housed ten families, Tataskweyak Cree Nation Chief Taralee Beardy told CBC on Sunday.

“It was quite shocking and devastating,” she said. “The families that were affected were quite traumatized, especially the families with the injured individuals.”

A 17-year-old bystander was on her way to work when she noticed smoke coming from the building. Beardy said the girl helped rescue a family of five from the apartment, but required hospitalization for smoke inhalation.

The teen, along with a 2-year-old boy who suffered burn injuries, were airlifted to the Health Sciences Centre Children’s Hospital, she said.

Forty-nine people are now displaced after the fire on the First Nation, a community over 700 kilometres north of Winnipeg, which Beardy said has an on-reserve population of about 2,700.

Three families are currently being housed at a hotel in the community, but she said more long-term housing is needed.

“We have no housing. We have no place to put them,” said Beardy. “They need a home.”

Fire engulfs apartment complex on Tataskweyak Cree Nation

A teen and toddler were airlifted to hospital in Winnipeg after a fire ripped through an apartment complex, displacing forty-nine people. The community’s fire truck isn’t operational and firefighting support came from York Landing First Nation and Gillam, Manitoba.

Tataskweyak has a fire crew on site, but their fire truck has not been functional for over a month due to mechanical issues. Beardy hopes the community can get funds for a new truck as well as support for more permanent housing units.

“Right now, we need housing, but [families] also need stuff like toiletries, household items, cleaning supplies, groceries.”

Firefighters battle a blaze on a northern Manitoba First Nation.
Firefighters responded to an apartment complex fire on Tataskweyak Cree Nation on Saturday. (Roddy Chartrand/CBC)

Fire crews from York Factory First Nation and Gillam, Man., helped combat the blaze before it could spread to a neighbouring apartment complex. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. 

Beardy said she was grateful for the heroes who helped rescue people from the fire, and for the support from people in her community afterwards.

“It was very nice to see how everybody came together,” she said. “Everybody from our community stepped up and helped in whatever ways they could.”

Flames engulf a building in northern Manitoba.
Fire crews remained on scene until 3 a.m. on Sunday, according to Roddy Chartrand, but returned later in the day after learning that it had restarted. (Submitted by Roddy Chartrand)

Roddy Chartrand, an emergency volunteer, was part of a crew of seven with the York Factory fire department who got to the scene of the blaze around 4:30 p.m.

After combatting the blaze for almost three hours, the Tataskweyak firefighters were exhausted, he said.

“They were beat,” he told CBC, adding that crews also struggled with the elements outside, as -30 weather led to frozen fire hydrants.

His crew helped fight the fire until 3 a.m. on Sunday morning, he said, returning to the scene later in the day after learning that the fire had started up again.

Chartrand is glad no one lost their lives.

“They managed to get everybody out,” he said. “Everybody was accounted for. It was a very tense scene when we got there.”

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