Residents evacuated after Monday’s fire in Chinatown were let back into their homes late yesterday afternoon, after hours of uncertainty.

“I was here for an hour on Monday,” said local tea shop owner Tony Yao. “I had to leave because the fumes were making me dizzy. Even the residents in buildings that weren’t being evacuated were leaving because it got so bad.”

About 160 people were evacuated from the apartment behind the burning building on Centre Street when carbon monoxide levels caused by the fire became dangerously high.

“Most of the people that live in the buildings around here are senior citizens,” said Yao.

“A lot of them went to stay with relatives until the smoke had cleared, but the residents of the evacuated building didn’t get the OK to come back until late afternoon.”

The fire department worked through the day yesterday and then through the night searching for clues to the blaze — and ensuring residents could return safely.

“Obviously our primary objective (was) to get people back into their homes,” said fire department spokesman Jeff Budai.

Emergency crews made sure the apartment building was habitable for its residents, with the fire department monitoring air quality of the apartment building, and inspecting the mechanical systems, some of which had been subject to water damage after the firefighter’s efforts to stop the flames.

“This is what we do as a city when it’s time to come together,” said Bruce Burrell, Calgary’s emergency-management agency director.

Investigators are still searching for the cause of the fire.

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