Nearly 100 tenants bracing for 'long-term displacement' after Little River apartment fire

·3 min read

Nearly a hundred tenants are being told to make long-term plans for alternative accommodation after a Saturday fire scorched a Windsor apartment building.

While no one was injured, some tenants are feeling stranded, unsure of where to go next and where to turn for help.

"It's been a mess. It's been an absolute mess," said Vicky Sinclair, a resident of the Little River Apartments building, near Lauzon Road and Little River Road.

Fire officials say the fire started in an upper unit, destroying a section of the roof, and impacting other sections as well. Electricity to the three-storey building has been shut off because hydro lines have been compromised. Other parts of the building where there's no fire damage are dealing with water damage.

"Some tenants have been showing up here and we're trying to accommodate (them) getting materials they need urgently," said Jeff Tebby, a quality assurance specialist with the Office of the Fire Marshal.

"This will be a long-term displacement .... Months."

'Trying to figure out what we can do'

Teri Ethier is worried about what comes next for her parents, Andrea and Larry, who lived in the building. Both have physical challenges.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

"We're trying to figure out what we can do and where we can place them and where they're comfortable so that they can go on with their everyday living," she said.

Her mother, who has multiples sclerosis, uses a wheelchair, and her father is recovering from a stroke.

Ethier said that for now, her parents are staying at her sister's place, but it's a temporary solution given that her mother requires a lift and a ramp.

Submitted by Desmond Johnson
Submitted by Desmond Johnson

On the day of the fire, the City of Windsor had temporarily set up a registration centre at the WFCU centre. There, Ethier met with social services from the city, but Ethier said she was told they weren't able to help because of her parents' special circumstances, and their special needs.

She said she's called multiple other organizations in seek of help for her parents, but says she keeps getting the run-around.

Her partner, Desmond Johnson said Ethier's mom is "boxed in a corner," explaining that as someone who uses a wheelchair, not every house is able to accommodate her needs.

"We can't just bring people, bring them anywhere and drop them there," he said.

"We need special accommodations."

Ethier explained that everything in her parents' apartment is "destroyed," including her mother's ceiling lift, which needs to be specially ordered and installed.

Looking for help

Sinclair's apartment is directly next to Ethier's parents' unit, explaining that her unit was destroyed because of water damage.

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

"There's nothing left in there," she said.

Ethier would like to see more help for those displaced, especially for people with disabilities.

"We just want to get it out there and raise awareness that people are stuck, and this is a devastation that happened," she said.

"There seems like there's no answers and there's no hope, and we're just kind of looking for some of that right now."

Jacob Barker/CBC
Jacob Barker/CBC

A spokesperson for the City of Windsor said that only one family attended the WFCU centre on Saturday, and that every household they spoke with had a place to go, such as staying with family and friends.

CBC reached out to the building's property management company, Global Management, but it declined to comment.

As for the Red Cross, the organization told CBC that in order for it to provide help, it would have to be requested by the municipality or by the management company, but so far, no such request has been made.

Fire officials will be giving residents some access to their suites during scheduled hours, starting Monday night.

The Office of the Fire Marshal is still investigating the fire, and the cause is still unknown.