Syrian refugee family of seven escapes house fire in Nanaimo


Times Colonist

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A house fire in Nanaimo Friday night displaced the homeowner and a Syrian refugee family of seven.

Around 9:30 p.m., firefighters responded to a fire on Strickland Street in south Nanaimo, after smoke alarms sounded.

All eight people in the house were able to get out, but the home was badly damaged by the time crews arrived and extinguished the fire.

“I was in the backyard and I just had Mohammed come in saying there was smoke coming in the house,” homeowner Charlo Going told CHEK news.

Going welcomed the family into his home two years ago. The couple has five children, ages two to 16 years old. They had been celebrating their youngest child’s birthday before the fire broke out.

“They’re so resilient. They’ve been through so much — escaping from Syria, staying in Jordan and Lebanon and coming here,” family friend Lynn Leduc told CHEK news.

Investigators said the fire started downstairs, and was likely caused by a power bar that malfunctioned. Nanaimo fire chief Karen Fry confirmed the fire was an accident.

No one was injured in the fire, but a pet bird did not make it out.

The homeowner had insurance, but the family didn’t. Sponsors who helped bring the family to Canada are now trying to help them rebuild their lives.

Cash donations for the family for moving expenses and to replace lost belongings are being accepted at the Coastal Community Savings Credit Union (c/o “AZ Sponsorship Group”).

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