Over 50 people scramble to find homes after fire

More than 50 people are scrambling to find homes after a Sherbrook Street fire destroyed an apartment building last Saturday. Amanda Woodrow and her four-year-old daughter have been forced to stay at a homeless shelter.

Woodrow’s Sherbrook Street apartment building caught fire on Jan. 14, leaving about 50 people homeless.

“I am homeless, and it’s so hard to say that because I was not homeless before,” said Woodrow.

Residents of the three-storey building have been told they won’t be able to return any time soon.

Now, Woodrow is scrambling to find an apartment she can afford, and in the meantime sleeping at the Salvation Army shelter.

Tenants were allowed to return briefly to their suites Friday. Many found that their suites had been broken into and items had been stolen.

"To have computers and stuff stolen – pictures of my daughter that can’t be replaced – it’s really hard,” said Woodrow. She said she could not afford tenants’ insurance.

Karen Linklater also lost property in the fire and the looting.

“To come back to my place being ransacked from being nice and clean when I left – it’s a horrible feeling,” said Linklater. “You should see it up there, it’s a mess.”

Resident Jean-Paul Chabauty said better care should’ve been taken to protect the tenants’ belongings.

“I have found the padlock unlocked and no contractor, no landlord, no insurance company, no security guard around,” said Chabauty. “I had to grab the padlock and relock it.”

That recklessness means priceless items are now gone forever, said Linklater.

“We felt so invaded,” she said. “Our pictures were everywhere and everything. It was just horrible, and now I have to start over. I worked so hard all my life.”

CBC News contacted the landlord to find out why there were break-ins. Owner Darcy Shaver said the insurance company is to blame for the security lapse.

Tenants are hoping to find homes soon, but high prices and a low-vacancy rate in the city is making that difficult.

“I don’t know how long it is going to be before I can get out of (the shelter),” said Woodrow.

Fire officials have not yet determined what caused the fire.

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