Homes found for 33 displaced families within hours of Yellowknife apartment fire

Before the rubble that was their former home had even stopped smouldering in downtown Yellowknife, the YWCA was able to find new units for the 33 families displaced by this morning's fire.

"To the families that have been displaced, your community is here for you," says mayor

At about noon Tuesday, firefighters were still dousing the Rockhill apartment building with water. Crews were called at about 5 a.m., as the fire consumed homes of 33 families. (Randi Beers/CBC)

Before the rubble that was their former home had stopped smouldering in downtown Yellowknife Tuesday, the YWCA was able to find new units for the 33 families displaced by the fire.

The YWCA leases Rockhill Apartments from the N.W.T. Government and uses the building for its own office as well as transitional housing for its clients.

Alayna Ward is the director of community relations for the YWCA. She credits Yellowknife's major landlord — Northview REIT — for finding new homes for everybody.

"I don't have all the details on exactly how," she said. "But we know that Northview really stepped up and I know that everybody has a roof over their heads tonight."

After residents woke up to the images of the blaze on social media and smoke billowing over downtown Yellowknife there was one question everyone was asking, 'How can I help?'

Liliana Canadic is the chief operating officer of the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority. She's helped co-ordinate resources for people displaced by Tuesday's apartment fire. (Randi Beers/CBC)

Ward says throughout the day she was inundated with messages and phone calls from people who wanted to donate furniture, clothes, food and household goods.

She stressed the YWCA doesn't have the capacity right now to accept anything but cash donations through its online fundraiser. She said her organization is working to accept other items soon.

'I don't need recognition'

Darcy Blampied owns DC Moving. He said he's ready with a moving truck to help pick up donations from residents, as well, deliver displaced families to their new homes.

"I don't need recognition," he said. "It's just when something like this happens and we have the capability to help we do it."

This generosity is something that hasn't gone beyond Mayor Mark Heyck's notice. He praised the community for their generosity.

"To the families that have been displaced, your community is here for you," he said. "I know Yellowknifers will pull together and support all these people and pull together to get them back on their feet."

City activates emergency response plan

A firefighter fights the flames from the ground at Rockhill apartments in Yellowknife Tuesday morning. (Priscilla Hwang/CBC)

The City of Yellowknife activated part of its emergency response plan this morning by setting up a temporary evacuation centre at the Fieldhouse. The building was bustling with workers, volunteers dropping off goods and families settling in with pizza, fruit and bottles of water.

Chief operating officer for the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority, Liliana Canadic said her organization is working with the city to provide counselling, health supports and income support among other things for the displaced Yellowknifers.

She said 65 people had registered at the Fieldhouse as of Tuesday afternoon, and she is expecting about 22 people to sleep there tonight as people slowly transition to their new homes.

Canadic said she expects the Fieldhouse to remain an evacuation centre for about 48 hours after the fire.

She also praised the community's response to the tragedy.

"If you look around you really don't see our community in crisis," she said. "I think [the people here] feel really supported and grateful."