It's been less than a week since a three-alarm fire destroyed a four-storey apartment complex at 3526 Smith Ave. and many of those residents are still scrambling to find places to live, clothes to wear and replacements for all their lost belongings.
The Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness is working closely with the City of Burnaby, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Progressive Housing Society and the South Burnaby Neighborhood House to help those people displaced by the fire.
The Salvation Army Metrotown citadel at 6125 Nelson Ave. is coordinating donations of household items and cash from the public and is the first point of contact for many of the victims.
Charmaigne Pflugrath, the City of Burnaby's emergency program coordinator, said she and her staff worked almost non-stop for the first 72 hours after the hour, helping people with accommodations, clothing and incidentals.
Pflugrath said the province was able to offer minor extensions on the 72 hours of emergency help on a case-by-case basis. Now, the help the residents will get will come from the citadel.
According to Wanda Mulholland of the Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness, the citadel will be open each day except Sunday for people needing assistance or for people who want to drop off items or cash.
"The Salvation Army has opened up their doors to be the recovery centre," said Mulholland. "We're accepting clothes and items like dishes and small appliances."
Mulholland said the bigger obstacle is finding places for these people to live, an especially difficult task because there weren't many affordable places available for rent in Burnaby before the fire.
"If anyone has an affordable place to rent in Burnaby, please contact me directly at 604-317-8114," said Mulholland, who added she had received several calls on Wednesday morning with rental leads.
People looking to drop off furniture are asked to call ahead to Helping Families in Need, near the corner of Gilmore Avenue and First Avenue. Call 604-294-3087 to arrange a drop-off time.
"It's always tragic to lose your home, your belongings, and in some cases, your pet," Cor Zandbergen, Red Cross disaster management volunteer said in a press release. "Together with the other agencies, we will do all we can to help the residents get back on their feet."
Red Cross volunteer workers provide vital assistance for people's basic needs, including shelter, food, assistance linking to local resources, clothing and household items. Red Cross assistance does not duplicate assistance provided through insurance, government or other agencies.
The fire, which left approximately 100 people homeless, occurred just after midnight on Sunday in a 50year-old building that did not have a sprinkler system.
There were 41 firefighters who fought the blaze and the Burnaby Fire Department utilized seven engines, three ladder trucks, a rescue truck and a command unit in the multi-day effort.
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