Winnipeggers took refuge at a neighbourhood church as their homes became engulfed in smoke, seriously damaging their suites.

On Friday morning, fire crews an apartment in the 400 block of Maryland Street. Arriving after 10:23 a.m., they found heavy flames and smoke pouring out of a suite. 

"Crews entered the building to fight the fire, with exterior support from an aerial ladder and water streams," a news release from the City of Winnipeg says.

The building evacuated, with some people needing assistance from firefighters. Major and extensive damage was done to the attic and suites. 

A church located down the block opened its doors, sheltering the evacuees from the cold. 

The fire was contained at 12:18 p.m., but crews remained on the scene for much of the afternoon. The section of Maryland between Ellice Avenue and St. Matthews Avenue remained closed until most of the route reopened for rush hour.

The city says because of the water used, the route is slick for drivers and pedestrians. 

"As water used to fight the fire froze and created slippery conditions, the City is applying sand and de-icing agents to roadways and sidewalks to improve traction."

The city says no damage estimates are available at this time.