An old three-storey apartment building in Coquitlam has been severely damaged by a fire, and in the process has displaced at least 50 Syrian refugees who have only been in the country for roughly six months.
Global BC reporter Jordan Armstrong is at the scene at 550 Cottonwood Avenue and says some of those refugees were from war-torn Aleppo.
“So to be seeing their building going up in flames is absolutely devastating for them. As the fire was being fought, they were watching their building go up in flames from a park just across the street. Many of them are children, so they were playing on the playground as their parents couldn’t believe what was going on.”
The question now is where will the refugees stay now that their homes have been destroyed.
“What they think will happen is they will be put in hotels for this evening, maybe a couple days, and the city is going to work really hard to find a longer term option.”
It’s still not known what caused the fire, but luckily there were no injuries.
Certified donation site set up to avoid fake GoFundMe attempts
Officials in Coquitlam have set up a certified fundraising site to help the victims, but the move comes amid concern that people might try and take advantage of the disaster.
Coquitlam Councillor Dennis Marsden says since the fire destroyed the apartment, at least two separate GoFund me accounts have been set up.
He says that’s prompted officials to re-activate an official site created in the wake of another apartment fire last year, giving donors certainty the cash will go to the people who need it.
“I’m hoping that we’ll see that outpouring repeat itself, or perhaps a little bit more. These are folks that in all probability will not have any insurance. They’re new to the country in some cases. The last thing on their mind is fire insurance. They’re going to need everything.”
Marsden says after the last fire, several bogus crowdfund campaigns popped up in the days after.
The official site is run by The Coquitlam Foundation, and provides certified tax receipts.
Picture via Global News