A fundraiser has been set up to help an 83-year-old man who lost all his belongings and has been left homeless after his motorhome went up in flames in West Vancouver earlier this week.
Robert Maxwell was driving in Dundarave near Marine Drive and 24th Street on Tuesday night (Feb. 9) when his RV, that he had called home for the past two years, caught alight.
Fire crews were called to the scene about 9 p.m. to find the RV engulfed in flame. Matt Furlot, assistant fire chief with West Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, said luckily Robert was alerted that his motorhome was ablaze and was able to stop and get out, as “the RV was quickly fully involved.” West Vancouver police said the cause of the fire is a suspected mechanical issue and it was not considered suspicious.
Maxwell escaped injury, but watched his whole world go up in smoke.
“He's lucky he got out of it, number one, because he was driving down the road and didn't realize it was on fire and he was going to make a left hand turn, so he had to stop, and somebody came up and banged on the door and got him out,” Robert’s sister, Patricia Maxwell, told North Shore News.
“He managed to get out with his cell phone, his wallet, and his jacket. That was it.”
Now, Patricia, who lives in Sooke, B.C., has set up a Gofundme to help her elderly brother get his life back on track.
“This was not only his means of transportation, but it was also his home,” she said.
“He has lost everything. His clothes, all his kitchenware, bedding, medication, documents. Everything that a person needs to live.”
Patricia said her brother is currently staying in a warming shelter, which was not ideal for anyone, but especially for an 83-year-old with health concerns.
She said her brother, who previously lived in West Vancouver, moved into the RV a couple of years ago. “He's had some hard times and that was one of the reasons he was living in the motorhome and, you know, everything he owned was in there and he's lost it all,” she said. “It's just tough.”
She said it was a great relief her brother wasn’t injured in the blaze and he “seemed to be coping OK” with the situation.
“When it first happened, he sounded a little shook up, but he was OK,” said Patricia. "But he doesn't really know what he's going to do right now."
Patricia has estimated that $10,000 to $15,000 will help give her brother the foot up he needs.
“As he has no place to stay, he is not able to receive donations of clothing or household items at least until he has a place to live,” Patricia wrote on Gofundme.
“The funds will be needed quickly as he is on a very low fixed income and will have great problems getting money together for a place to live.”
Patricia said the money would go toward a place to rent, clothes, furniture, household items, personal items, and medications.
She’s hoping the community will offer a helping hand.
“I just thank anybody and everybody who decides to donate,” said Patricia.
Go to Help Robert (Douglas) Get His Life Back After Fire to donate.
Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News