52 residents displaced by Charlottetown apartment fire find temporary housing

Despite a low vacancy rate and summer tourism season in full swing, all 52 residents of an apartment building in Charlottetown destroyed by fire Wednesday morning have found places to live, at least temporarily.

The residents of the 29-unit apartment at 10 Harley St. are all seniors or retired. A check of the residents' list confirmed police and firefighters were able to get everyone out safely.

Charlottetown Fire Inspector Winston Bryan said he's working to determine the cause of the fire, which he believes started on the back left corner of the building.

The resident manager of the two-year-old building said tenants woke up Wednesday morning to the sound of a large bang around 4:30.

Many Islanders have reached out to Killam Properties who owns the building to ask what they can do to help, said Dan Sampson, the company's director of property management.

"We were able to find accommodations for everybody," Sampson said.

The Killam offices had calls from some people who had temporary summer accommodations available, he said.

"As good Islanders do they came to our assistance."

Covered by insurance

Killam required tenants' insurance for everyone in the building.

"They were able to contact their insurance to assist them to find other accommodations," Sampson said.

Steve Bruce/CBC

Disaster volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross have arranged emergency lodging at Charlottetown-area hotels for 16 tenants, said Red Cross officials in a news release. 

The Red Cross also helped a total of 24 of the residents with emergency purchases ranging from clothing to replacement medications and other essentials, the release said.

"Everyone is doing well overall," said Alanna Green, program manager for Red Cross on P.E.I.

Red Cross provides any needs for the first 72 hours, such as a place to stay, clothes and food. Green said if people want to help, the organization accepts donations at local offices or online.

What to do long-term?

However, this still leaves many residents wondering what to do for housing in the long-term. Charlottetown has a vacancy rate of 0.2 per cent.

"I just know tonight the Red Cross will be putting us up and I don't know for … how long," said said apartment resident Dianne MacMillan, adding that her family doesn't live on P.E.I.  

She said she has no idea what she is going to do for housing after she stays with the Red Cross.

Steve Bruce/CBC

As for the building, Sampson said Killam plans to rebuild.

"We don't know the extent of the damage," he said. "We haven't been let inside yet, the fire investigators are still conducting their investigation."

More P.E.I. news