The big fire in a residential building east of the center of Ottawa forced the residents of the balconies to wait for help and caused several people to be treated for inhalation of smoke.
The emergency crews were summoned to 251 Donald Sent, east of Vannier Park, just before 5:30 am on Wednesday.
Firefighters had to call twice for backup and get some people out of their balconies using stairs.
Anne Gagnon, who lives on the third floor, said he was withdrawing back to his unit after he tried to escape with the help of the two stairs just to find them full of flames and people running upstairs.
"I was on the balcony, I could not call 911 because the power was turned off and my phone was not working … I was crying for help, I could not get off," she said.
"I've been waiting for my balcony for the longest time … Smoke was flowing into my apparatus through a vent.
Meanwhile, Lilian Kimbila was filled on a balcony on the eighth floor with about a dozen others waiting for help.
"me [had] followed the people to the stairs. We started going down, but when we reached the sixth floor, we could not go on, the smoke was everywhere. We went to the 18th floor, we could not climb, the smoke was everywhere. "
"[I thought], "I do not deserve to die in this fire."
The Ottawa operators said that around 6:15 in the morning they treated about 12 people for smoke intake and took five of them to a hospital.
None of them was in a life-threatening condition.
Ottawa Community Housing runs a 21-storey building with 200 units.
The cause of the fire is subject to investigation.
Residents who spoke to CBC News said they seem to have started on the second floor.
Donald Street is closed for traffic between the streets of Vanier Parkway and Beaudry Street.