No more donations needed for Stony Plain fire victims

The Town of Stony Plain is saying that no more donations are needed right now to help those left homeless by a massive apartment fire earlier this week.
The Town of Stony Plain says they have enough donated items for now. (Town of Stony Plain)

No more donations are needed to help the people left homeless by a massive fire that ripped through a Stony Plain apartment building earlier this week.

The Town of Stony Plain sent the message out on Twitter Saturday morning, thanking people for their generosity and requesting no more items be dropped off, as they had collected more items than they could give away.

"It has been quite overwhelming — we received more than enough," said Rudy Zacharias, the communications coordinator with the Town of Stony Plain.

"We certainly appreciate everything we received but we do not need any more. We have more than enough materials. We're asking residents now to please not donate any more."

Over sixty people were left homeless after the 36-unit apartment building was destroyed, including many young families, foreign workers or landed immigrants, said Stony Plain Mayor William Choy.

Some residents whose apartments were behind a firewall and escaped the flames were allowed to return to their apartments today.

"We grabbed photos, pictures that his niece and nephew drew us," said Danielle Wiebe, who salvaged what she could from her apartment.

The generous people from Stony Plain stepped up to replace the rest, she said.

"I already knew this was an amazing community — but to see within I think twelve hours it was all there."

Some lost everything

Choy said many of the residents did not have tenant insurance.

"I am just very overwhelmed at how the community has come together," said Debbie Young, one of those without insurance. "The amount of stuff here is just amazing."

"It's been phenomenal the amount of people just popping in and saying ‘okay what can I do?’" said volunteer Mandy Wright on Friday. "It's been amazing — just amazing."

Danielle Lim lived in the building with her two children. None of them were hurt, but they lost everything — including a pet lizard, she said.

Amie and Joel Outen received better news. Their two cats — Kiwi and Lucky — were rescued from the rubble on Friday. They had been hiding in a section of the roof that collapsed, said Amie.

Arnold Basilan actually ran back into the burning building after being evacuated in order to save his newly acquired permanent resident status papers.

"[I was] scared. I said ‘oh, I need my papers,’" said Basilan. "So I’m lucky I got my papers... that's all I got yesterday."

The fire is believed to have started on one of the upper floors around 6:45 p.m. Thursday night, and spread quickly owing to strong winds.

The exact cause of the fire, which Choy believes if one of the largest ever seen in Stony Plain, is still being investigated.

"[The investigation is pretty much done on-site," said Dan Badry, Stony Plain's fire chief.

"It's just a matter of completing interviews of some of the tenants and also some of the people who were here at the early stage of the fire."

While donations are no longer being accepted, the Red Cross Personal Disaster Assistance Team is still on hand and will be providing emergency assistance to the fire's victims throughout the weekend.

A trust fund has also been established to help the victims.