Uninsured family gets help after home fire

A Port Coquitlam family of seven is struggling to get back on its feet after a fire gutted the top floor of its townhouse earlier this week.

The fire started in a third-storey bedroom in the Woodland Drive complex. Port Coquitlam Fire and Rescue Chief Nick Delmonico said when firefighters arrived, the top floor was already in flames.

Three residents who were at home at the time — mom Jamie Grant-Vaquareno and her three youngest children — got out safely.

“The fire crews did a tremendous job putting out the fire before it got too much further but the third floor of the townhouse was completely gutted,” Delmonico said.

One firefighter was injured when a window blew out of the third floor and landed on his head.

“He was knocked out cold and was taken to Royal Columbian Hospital with a concussion but he’s now been released with no serious threat to anything at this point,” Delmonico said.

The cause of the blaze appears to have been an accidental electrical fire.

Grant-Vaquareno is a single mom on disability raising her six kids, aged three to 15, and she did not have insurance. She reported that the family’s clothes, shoes, toys, beds and bedding were all destroyed in the fire.

Emergency social services has placed the family in a hotel and Share Family and Community Services has also stepped in to help.

Share CEO Martin Wyant said the family will be moving in to temporary housing on Friday until their townhouse can be renovated.

The Share food bank is also putting together baskets of food for the family and the organization is co-ordinating with other groups as well to make sure they have what they need, such as beds for the children.

“It’s the little bits and pieces we never think about,” Wyant said, the kinds of things that are taken for granted until suddenly they’re not there anymore.

“We’re assuming they’ll pretty much need everything to start over,” he said. The children’s schools are also pitching in, organizing support drives to help the family.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from people interested in helping out,” Wyant said. “There’s been a good, generous response happening.”

Wyant said more information will be available next week after the family is settled in its temporary home.



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