Woman, 21, charged with arson for Point Douglas warehouse fire

A 21-year-old woman has been charged for igniting a fire that destroyed a Winnipeg warehouse and filled the sky with plumes of smoke on Tuesday.

As firefighters worked to douse the flames, police were controlling traffic at the scene on Higgins Avenue and Point Douglas Avenue. That’s when someone approached them with the description of a suspect and directed the officers in the direction the person went, said spokesperson Const. Dani McKinnon.

Not long afterwards, police found the woman in the Elmwood neighbourhood and took her into custody. She has been charged with arson and mischief for other damages she allegedly caused in the area.

McKinnon said the woman was previously known to them, which helped them locate her so quickly.

At least two dozen units from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service were called to the fire just before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

It forced police to close Higgins from Sutherland Avenue to Annabella Street and the road wasn’t reopened again until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The warehouse that burned, at 2 Point Douglas Ave., is owned by Gateway Industries Ltd. During the fire the roof collapsed, making it difficult for firefighters to get at hot spots inside, McKinnon said.

Black smoke fills the sky to the northwest of the Manitoba Legislature. (Submitted by Donna L. Brown)

Nearby power lines also made it difficult for crews to get an angle to fight the fire, while temperatures close to 30 C also complicated the operation as crews had to rotate frequently to avoid exhaustion, a Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The battle against this blaze progressed over the day and throughout the night. The smouldering fire was successfully extinguished early Wednesday.

The city said about 100 firefighters were at the fire through the day and evacuated 10 nearby homes.

The blaze was so large at one point that satellite radar detected the heat from the flames and smoke.

One firefighter was taken to hospital in stable condition on Tuesday and another was treated on scene and released, police said, but did not provide details about the injuries.

There have been multiple fires at that location in the past. 

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