Several fundraisers have been set up in the wake of last Friday’s fire at the Newmark apartments in downtown Chilliwack.
At least five GoFundMe pages were started for five separate people/families after a blaze broke out in one of the three Newmark buildings on Victor Street on Sept. 3.
Flames could be seen from the ground floor to the fourth floor of the four-storey building when crews from the Chilliwack Fire Department arrived on scene around 3:30 p.m.
Firefighters used a “deck gun” attached to the top of a fire engine pumper truck to extinguish the blaze, said assistant fire chief Chris Wilson. A deck gun (also known as a master stream) is a high-capacity water jet that pumps out 1,000 gallons of water per minute.
The deck gun along with the interior sprinkler system were key to knocking down the fire quickly and preventing it from spreading to other units, Wilson said.
The exterior of four units, plus the roof suffered fire damage. There was no fire damage inside the units, but “a number” of units were damaged by water and smoke, he added.
In the following days, at least five GoFundMe fundraisers started up to help the victims:
1) Family of three (fundraising goal $5,000): Dennis Clarke, Jess and seven-year-old Connor • “Help Dennis and his family recover after a fire” • The family was not home at the time of the fire. Aside from their two cats, whom Jess managed to save, they have nothing. For the past few days, they have been camping in their van.
2) Family of three: Cass McMann and family (fundraising goal $5,000) • “Family of 3 loses everything” • The family’s cat ran away during the fire and has not yet been found. They are a low-income family and are in dire need of food, clothing, essentials and supplies. The father is disabled and cannot work or drive a vehicle.
3) Family of two: Rob and Coralee (fundraising goal $5,000) • “Apartment fire relief” • Rob and Coralee have lost a lot of their items due to smoke and water damage. They are out of groceries, clothing and home essentials. Gift cards are also being accepted through the friend who started the fundraiser.
4) Family of one: Paige Peterson (fundraising goal $2,000) • “Help to find new home” • Peterson said she believes she likely lost almost all of her belongings as a result of the fire. “I will need to find a new home and fill it with new belongings as most of mine will be ruined. Anything would be appreciated to help relieve the stress of having to start from scratch on my own,” Peterson said.
5) Family of one: Doug (fundraising goal $10,000) • “Help Doug rebuild his life” • Doug is a tow truck driver who also lost everything due to the fire. He was at work when he heard about the blaze. “He has nothing left, the only thing he was able to walk away with was the clothes on his back,” wrote Natalie McDonald and Christopher Prevost on the GoFundMe page. “He has no family or anyone to help him rebuild his life, he always helps everyone else at anytime day or night. He is the man that shows up when everyone is having their worst day.”
6) Two roommates: Morgan Anderson (fundraising goal of $10,000) • Help Myles and Chance after House Fire Fund: “My brother and his roommate have recently lost all their belongings and home to an apartment fire at the Newmark buildings. Nothing was left. If anyone can donate even a little bit to help these two get back on their feet and hopefully get some stuff replaced that would be of great appreciation.
The whole building is currently unoccupied and it is not known when residents will be able to go home. Emergency Support Services (ESS) is helping about 60 people.