A Victoria couple is facing homelessness after a fire badly damaged their rented home. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria couple who lost their home to fire were community-minded volunteers, friend says

Cooking fire sent couple to hospital Monday evening

A friend of a Victoria couple who lost their home and belongings in a fire Monday night says the pair is facing homelessness after dedicating their lives to volunteer work.

Michael Wegner and Linda Banh were taken to hospital Monday evening after the home they rent in the 2000-block of Victor Street went up in flames. The Victoria Fire Department said the blaze was likely started by someone cooking with oil. The fire spread fast, badly damaging the home and nearly everything inside.

Banh was discharged from the hospital but Wegner remains hospitalized with burns.

The couple had nothing, said their friend Sonora Godfrey, partly because they put so much energy into their community.

RELATED: Two people taken to hospital after cooking oil fire ravages home

“I think both of them together, they are the kind of people who are just magnets for finding causes and then doing things about them,” Godfrey said. “That’s why I’m hoping the community can hopefully do the same thing back.”

Wegner, who Godfrey describes as a “volunteer fixture” at Beacon Community Services, runs the LoveWhereYouLive BC group with Banh. The unlisted Victoria organization runs various social responsibility and environmental campaigns in the region – one of the most recent and prominent, a cigarette butt cleanup effort.

Godfrey says the pair used their own savings for the costs of the organization and lived, essentially, month-to-month.

“They haven’t been piling away a hidden nest egg, they’ve been working social service jobs and living paycheque-to-paycheque,” she said. “They’re both incredibly passionate about helping others. Michael comes alive when he gets to run his events. He’s endlessly passionate about the environment and raising money for good causes and doing the right thing.”

Godfrey started a GoFundMe campaign on the pair’s behalf to help them get back on their feet.

“They gave everything they had to their community and I’m hoping the community can, sort of, give everything back. Every little bit helps.”

RELATED: Cash for butts program giving away $1,500 to Victoria cigarette butt-collectors



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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