A four-story apartment building caught fire 7 April in Esquimalt, British Columbia, taking the life of one resident and leaving more than 100 temporarily homeless. The Esquimalt Church of the Nazarene is assisting the victims by providing shelter, food, and toiletries.
“We put a lot of personal packages together with toothpaste [and] deodorant [and provided food for the victims],” Esquimalt Pastor Barry Goodwin told Chek news.
Though Goodwin and the other volunteers felt that providing toiletries and food wasn’t much, many of the struggling residents were touched by the church’s efforts.
“He did everything for us, he gave us food and coffee and soft drinks, and this morning he gave us breakfast and lunch in the afternoon,” apartment tenant Rocky D’Agostino told Chek News. “I just can’t say enough for these volunteers; God bless them all.”
The apartment building sustained severe fire, smoke, and water damage throughout, meaning some residents could remain homeless for weeks until the building is deemed safe.
"It's actually crazy how fast it happened," apartment tenant Andrea McDonald told CTV News. "I walked out [after the fire alarm went off] and there was flames. I didn't grab anything. My boyfriend grabbed our cat."
Some residents lost most of their possessions in the fire and several did not have content insurance. The church has started a fundraiser to help the residents get back on their feet.
"There's definitely going to be all kinds of needs," Goodwin told CTV News. "There's people on pension there and welfare. It's a low-rental area, and that brings with it its own challenges.”
The local fire department is conducting air quality tests and will alert residents when it’s safe to return. They are still working to determine the cause of the fire.
Prayer is requested for the fire victims.