‘We operate by grace’: Society that runs Samaritan Place in Nanaimo will forgive smoker who started fire

'We operate by grace': Society that runs Samaritan Place in Nanaimo will forgive smoker who started fire

Most people living in Samaritan Place, the supportive housing building in Nanaimo, should be able to move back in on Tuesday after they were displaced by fire on Sunday.

Fifty-seven people were displaced, but the clean-up since is going well.

“We are hoping and anticipating that residents from our fourth floor and possibly our second floor will be able to move back into their homes probably by early tomorrow,” said Corrie Corfield, Island Crisis Care Society’s Director of People, Culture and Engagement.

For a second day, restoration workers were inside Samaritan Place Monday using dehumidifiers while repairing and cleaning up the water and smoke damage.

Watch the report below

The damage to the third floor, where the fire started, including some drywall replacement, will take longer to repair. It will also leave 19 residents out of their homes, and it’s unknown for how long. The first floor doesn’t contain living units.

The fire broke out early Sunday morning but was quickly subdued by the building’s sprinkler system, which knocked the flames down before they could cause widespread damage.

Despite smoking being banned in Samaritan Place, fire officials say a cigarette was behind this blaze.

“The cigarette did fall, and I’m not sure if he was aware, but it went on the mattress, and then at that point, the mattress started on fire. How quickly that presented himself, I’m not sure,” said Assistant Fire Chief Troy Libbus.

READ PREVIOUS: ‘Nothing but smoke’: More than 50 people displaced following fire at Nanaimo supportive housing facility

Island Crisis Care Society says it’s more about forgiveness than wanting to see the smoker penalized.

“That’s a challenging question. We operate by grace in our organization and really believe that people deserve care and compassion,” said Corfield.

Samaritan Place provides around-the-clock support services for the vulnerable and has been open for two years.

As for who will pay for the damage and clean-up? Island Crisis Care says that’s still being determined.

“The building is owned by BC Housing, by the province, so we’re the operators, so we have responsibility in that respect, but we’re working with BC Housing just to figure out next steps and who will be responsible in the end for everything,” said Corfield

Corfield says there are insurance policies on the building and its contents, but she’s not sure what exactly the policies will cover in this case.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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