Victoria firefighters attend the scene of a November fire at 829 Hillside Avenue.

Victoria firefighters attend the scene of a November fire at 829 Hillside Avenue.

Families rebuilding after townhouse fire

Families are slowly beginning to rebuild their lives nearly a month after a fire ripped through a townhouse complex on Hillside Avenue.

Families are slowly beginning to rebuild their lives nearly a month after a fire ripped through a townhouse complex on Hillside Avenue.

According to Kelly Greenwell, executive director of the Quadra Village Community Centre, which is currently providing support to the six families who were displaced by a fire at the Evergreen Terrace Townhouses last month, almost all the families are living in housing and are starting to rebuild their lives.

“They’re making headway. It’s been easier for families to chip away at things by identifying some essential needs and taking the next step of ‘we have those needs met, what else do we need’? Because it’s everything from toys to a flipper for your frying pan to pots and pans that need to be replaced,” Greenwell said.

“To build your life back up in terms of all your material possession is a huge undertaking just on its own. When you mix in the trauma of a fire, having to run or walk away from your household in the middle of the night, it just magnifies how difficult it is.

“It’s taken a while, it’s made life really busy for (the families).”

Around 3 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, firefighters responded to a blaze at a housing complex located at 829 Hillside Ave., and arrived to find residents had already fled from the flames. Crews were able to put out the fire, however, officials said three suites were heavily damaged and four will require extensive repairs.

The investigation into the fire is now complete, however, the cause is undetermined as investigators were unable to do a physical examination due to the structural integrity of the building.

Greenwell was woken up early that morning by his phone that lit up with text messages from people telling him about the fire. Shortly after, Greenwell and a number of other local organizations sprung into action to help the roughly 35 victims of the fire, setting up an emergency fund and making sure the victims had a place to stay.

Three of the families have since been housed on site at the Evergreen Terrace complex, and three have been provided housing elsewhere through B.C. Housing.

In the weeks following the fire, the community rallied behind the families, donating more than $10,000 in financial donations, money which will go towards replacing things on a case-by-case basis. In addition, a few thousands dollars of in-kind materials such as clothing, kitchen appliances, bunk beds, gift cards and couches have been donated. At times, there were so many donations, the community centre had a hard time keeping up.

There have been points of frustration along the way for the families trying to piece their lives back together, and some children have had trouble sleeping at night due to trauma from the fire, but Greenwell said most families are getting back into the daily routines of driving their children to school and heading to appointments.

“There’s been a lot of gratitude for the help that’s been offered up,” said Greenwell, who checks in with the families at least once a week. “It’s exhausting to rebuild like this . . . you really see how much people care.”

The Mustard Seed has also been collecting clothing, furniture and financial donations for the families on behalf of the community centre.

“The community just stepped up, as we do when there’s a significant call to action — we act,” said Allan Lingwood, director of development with the food bank.

Donations are still being accepted as part of the Quadra Village Emergency Fund for victims of the fire. To donate visit quadravillagecc.com, call 250-388-7696, or email frontdesk@quadravillagecc.com.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crews with Central Saanich Fire Department spent Sunday morning mopping up a fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage. The fire displaced six people with its cause still under investigation. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Residents of a Central Saanich duplex ‘fortunate’ to escape Sunday morning fire

Damage to the duplex extensive with one resident said to be ‘catatonic’ after escaping building

Kiana Chamberland was last seen April 15 in Esquimalt. (Victoria Police Department)
MISSING: Kiana Chamberland, considered at high risk

The 24-year-old was last seen April 15th in Esquimalt

Six people are said to have escaped injury and are currently receiving assistance after an early Sunday morning fire in Central Saanich displaced them. (Central Saanich Fire Department/Twitter)
Six people escape early Sunday morning fire in Central Saanich unharmed

Cause of the fire on Galbraith Close remains under investigation

Metchosin ecologist Andy MacKinnon is raising alarm bells for arbutus trees, as many are falling victim to a fungus called leaf blights. The leaves and branches of the trees are turning brown or black and then dropping off, eventually killing them. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Vancouver Island arbutus trees fighting for survival against parasites

Many trees weakened, turning black or brown and dying, says local ecologist

Applied theatre researcher Dennis Gupa wearing a traditional Filipino malong at a local beach in Victoria. (Credit: John Threlfall)
UVic researcher uses theatre to empower marginalized voices, fight climate change

Dennis Gupa looks to create new modes of expression, knowledge sharing

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read