Homes have been found for a majority of the victims displaced by a July 28 fire on Cottonwood Avenue in Coquitlam but there are still 10 families, some of them refugees, without a place to live.
Fire Chief Wade Pierlot told The Tri-City News that contractors worked quickly to cap utilities and seal off building 21, where the bulk of the damage occurred, and building 20, which was damaged when the fire wall was breached. That means that buildings 18 and 19 have been reoccupied and Concert Properties, the company that owns the site, was able to find additional units in other buildings for some of the victims.
“We have been able to get people back in,” Pierlot said. “However, that left 10 families still without a place to go.”
For now, the refugee families that have yet to find a permanent place to live are being assisted by Immigrant Services Society of BC and their emergency shelter accommodations have been extended.
The fire broke out on a Thursday afternoon and was sparked by a plumber’s torch during routine maintenance. The 48-unit complex was evacuated while firefighters worked to contain the flames.
Since the blaze occurred, many community members have stepped up to help.
The Coquitlam Foundation presented a cheque for $23,000 to the Coquitlam Firefighters Charitable Society, which will distribute food and merchandise gift cards to fire victims. A large part of that contribution came from Concert Properties, which donated $20,000. Real Canadian Superstore also donated $500 in gift cards while a GoFundMe campaign launched by Coquitlam Coun. Teri Towner had raised $4,175 as of Tuesday afternoon.
“This overwhelming generosity is an example of our community’s immediate and generous response to those in need,” said Janet Toddington, chair of the Coquitlam Foundation.
James Martins, the president of the Coquitlam Firefighters Charitable Society, said the funds would be dispersed based on the losses sustained by victims. Residents of buildings 18 and 19 will each receive $150 while those in building 20 will receive $200. People residing in building 21, where the bulk of the fire damage occurred, will receive $400.
“We will be reassessing all information as we continue to receive it and as more funds pour in,” Martins said in a press release.
Those who wish to make a donation can click here before hitting Donate Now button on the bottom right-hand corner of the page. From there, select the Community Fund icon in the drop box and reference “Cottonwood Fire” in the message section. Donors will receive tax receipts.