CALGARY – Two firefighters were taken to hospital with minor injuries after battling a stubborn fire at the Stadium Shopping Centre on Thursday.
Grey smoke could be seen pouring from the strip mall, located in the 1900 block of Uxbridge Drive N.W., starting at around 7:20 a.m.
Firefighters were initially called to the scene by a passerby who spotted flames coming from the roof of the building.
When they arrived, crews called more apparatus to the scene for support.
The Calgary Fire Department said six businesses in total were damaged by the fire, including Billingsgate Seafood Market & Restaurant., Hi-Ball Restaurant, Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Star and The Cat House Inc.
The manager of The Cat House Inc. was able to rescue to two cats that live in the store.
“They seem a bit spooked, but otherwise they’re fine,” said Peter Chao, who said the felines were unharmed by the smoke.
WATCH: Global Reporter Stefan Keyes shot this up-close video of the fire that engulffed the Stadium Shopping Centre.
Firefighters used thermal imaging cameras to track the fire’s path as they battled the blaze.
They said the strip mall had a number of false ceilings and they have even found straw in the some of the walls fueling the fire.
WATCH: Viewer captures time lapse of fire from nearby Brentwood Seniors Health Center between 10:55 and 11:24 a.m.
Two area schools were evacuated as a precaution.
A total of 320 students walked from University Elementary School to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, while several special needs students were moved to the hospital via bus.
Paramedics assessed two students who complained of respiratory issues. One of them, a seven-year-old girl, was transported to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in stable, non-life-threatening condition. The second patient, an eight-year-old boy, was treated on scene and released to the care of his parents.
A second school north of the fire was evacuated, although no students were there at the time, only a few staff members.
University Elementary School is expected to remain closed Friday due to ongoing air quality concerns.
The Calgary Board of Education said they “have explored other suitable options for the temporary relocation of students at other CBE sites but none were found for [Friday.]”
WATCH: The fire at the Stadium Shopping Centre sent a huge plume of thick smoke over northwest Calgary, and that prompted warnings over air quality. Global’s Heather Yourex-West reports.
The Calgary Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials team attended the scene to perform air quality tests and neighbouring businesses were asked to shut down their ventilation systems until air quality in the area improved.
“The fire produced continuous, dense smoke for the duration of the event,” said EMS spokesperson Stuart Brideaux in a Thursday news release.
Utilities to businesses in the shopping centre were shut down.
It’s unknown what caused the fire.
WATCH: The Stadium Shopping Centre was already the centre of plans to redevelop, so with fire destroying much of the building how are these plans affected? Stefan Keyes reports.