The man who died in a fire in a North Cowichan apartment building on New Year’s Eve has been identified by his daughter as Gerry Dore, a loving grandfather who volunteered as an outreach worker for more than a decade and would welcome those in need into his home.
Thursday’s fire in a four-storey apartment at 2574 Lewis St. left Dore dead, sent seven people to hospital and forced some to jump from upper-storey balconies.
Dawn Dore, who lives in Vancouver, is still in shock that her father is gone.
The fire is believed to have started in Dore’s fourth-floor suite. His daughter said it’s suspected his oxygen tank ignited but she doesn’t know how or why that happened.
The 65-year-old used the oxygen tank for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his daughter said. He has also battled heart problems, post traumatic stress disorder and was a cancer survivor, she said.
He had lived in Vancouver, Victoria, Port Alberni and most recently Duncan. Dawn Dore said wherever he lived, he would open his door to anyone who needed a place to stay or a warm meal. Dore knew many in the street community because of his 15 years volunteering with the Mustard Seed Street Church, Dawn Dore said.
“My dad was a good-hearted person that did a lot for the community,” said his daughter, who was so touched by her father’s open door policy, she took up the practice herself.
Gerry Dore was instantly recognizable from tattoos on his face and arms, said his daughter. He spent 17 years as a tattoo artist and taught many younger tattoo artists the craft. Dawn Dore remembers as a kid, her father would lip sync to the latest songs on the radio and dance around with her and her brother.
He was a master bedtime story-teller, Dawn Dore said, and he would teach his kids about nature, reptiles and insects.
“I just really hoped that he knows that he meant so much to so many people,” she said.
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Const. Pam Bolton said Tuesday that the fire is not considered suspicious but the cause has not been released.
The fire forced some people to jump from windows while others were rescued by firefighters using ladder trucks.
About 38 residents of the 34-unit building have been displaced and are receiving assistance from Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Emergency Support Services.
The B.C. Coroners Service is investigating the death.