A homeowner and a refugee family of seven from Syria have been displaced, after a house fire in Nanaimo Friday night.
Fire crews responded to Strickland Street in south Nanaimo around 9:36 p.m. after smoke alarms went off.
Everyone quickly evacuated, but by the time crews arrived and knocked down the blaze the home was badly damaged.
“I was in the backyard and I just had Mohammed come in saying there was smoke coming in the house,” said home owner Charlo Going
“It’s very scary because this is the first time I saw fire in a house,” said family member Mohammed Al Zamel.
Going opened the home to shelter the family two years ago, who have five children aged two to 16. They had been celebrating their two-year-old’s birthday before the incident.
“They’re so resilient. They’ve been through so much escaping from Syria staying in Jordan and Lebanon and coming here,” said friend Lynn Leduc.
The homeowner had insurance but the Syrian refugee family did not. So neighbours and sponsors who brought the family here are now trying to help them get back on their feet again.
Investigators say the fire started downstairs, and that the likely cause was a power bar that malfunctioned.
Officials say people should closely examine their power bars in the wake of what happened.
“Make sure they buy a quality one that’s got some kind of UL listing to it or some kind of electrical listing to it. The cheap ones aren’t always the better ones,” said Ennis Mond, from Nanaimo Fire Rescue.
Everyone escaped the fire except a pet bird.
Cash donations for the family to cover moving expenses and replacement of some belongings are being accepted at the Coastal Community Savings Credit Union (c/o “AZ Sponsorship Group”.