Church launches fundraiser for Esquimalt fire victims
A fundraising campaign is underway to help the residents displaced by Sunday's fatal apartment fire in Esquimalt.
The Esquimalt Church of the Nazarene, located a few hundred metres from the scene of the deadly blaze at 843 Craigflower Road, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $50,000 in donations – approximately $2,000 for each family affected by the blaze.
Neighbours identified the lone fatality in the fire as Judith Burke, who could be seen in witness video of the fire standing on her fourth-floor balcony before succumbing to the flames.
A coroner confirmed Monday that a woman in her 60s perished in the blaze and that it was in the early stages of an investigation into her death. Her body was removed from the unit Sunday night by coroners and police.
As many as 100 residents of the building have been left homeless in the wake of the blaze. All of them have been offered temporary shelter at the Church of the Nazarene
"There's definitely going to be all kinds of needs," Barry Goodwin, a pastor at the church, 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."
Some residents could remain homeless for days and possibly weeks until the building is deemed safe to return to.
Student Andrea McDonald is one of those left temporarily homeless by the blaze.
"It's actually crazy how fast it happened," she said. "I had just come home from getting groceries – there was nothing going on."
Once she was inside her unit, however, she said she heard the fire alarm and immediately left.
"I walked out and there was flames," she said. "I didn't grab anything. My boyfriend grabbed our cat."
McDonald's situation is especially difficult given that she has exams coming up, and all her study materials are still inside, where she can't get to them.
"They said our unit was severely damaged," she said. "Losing someone in the building is just terrifying."
The structure endured severe fire and smoke damage on the fourth floor and water damage below, according to investigators.
"Any donation is greatly appreciated, will be tax receipted, and all monies will be forwarded to victims of this tragic incident," the church said on the fundraising page.
The campaign had raised short of $1,500 by 2 p.m. Tuesday, much of it from anonymous donors.