Winnipeg fire crews were called to a fire that ripped through a North End apartment building Friday afternoon.

The call came in at around 4:30 p.m. Smoke poured from the windows of the three-storey brick walk-up on Alfred Avenue east of Main Street.

Crews blocked off the road as fire fighters battled the blaze.

Winnipeg Fire Department District Chief Don Enns said fire spread to all floors and went through the roof, with flames reaching up to nine meters high.

CTV News spoke with one of the owners of the apartment building. He said he was ‘quite upset’ because the building was under renovation. He said squatters had been at the building.

Enns said the building was vacant, boarded up and secured when crews arrived, but it was too dangerous for fire fighters to enter.

“We couldn’t get in because we had reports there were holes in the floors, and the building structure was compromised, so when we are in such a situation we can’t risk putting fire fighters inside,” he said.

“Plus with the heavy fire showing, it would have been extremely dangerous putting anyone inside.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Enns said a fire investigator was on scene.

“A fire like this in the middle of the afternoon, there was no hydro, no gas connected to this”.

Enns said when he pulled up to the scene, he was worried the building might collapse.

“It looked like it was quite far gone, so I was afraid we were actually going to lose the building, but the greatest concern to us is actually the collapse hazard at the front of the building.”

“If this starts to collapse on our equipment, our fire firefighters are greatly at risk.”

At 7 p.m. Enns said a potential collapse was still a concern.

Crews used the ladder truck to douse water on the building and put out the fire.

Enns said there was also concern early on that people in nearby homes would need to be evacuated. However that ended up being unnecessary because crews got the fire under control relatively quickly.