South Hamptons condo residents return to suites for first time since fire

Watch above: For the first time since Monday’s fire, residents of the Park Place South Hamptons condo complex were allowed back inside briefly to grab some belongings. Fletcher Kent has more.

EDMONTON – Three days after a massive blaze tore through their homes, residents of the Park Place South Hamptons condo complex were allowed back in their suites Thursday.

Homeowners were given 20 minutes to go inside, assess the damage and grab their personal belongings.

“We were both pretty anxious to get in and to see,” said Bethany Erickson, who lives in the building with her husband Tim. “But when we stepped in, and the smell, that’s when I started to get pretty worried.”

Erickson and her husband were lucky; their unit was spared by the fire.

Not everyone was quite as lucky, though. Monika and Steve St. Jean say it’s been an emotional week waiting to see what was left of their home after fire ripped through the west Edmonton condo building early Monday morning.

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“We tried to cut the emotion out. It wasn’t until I got to my son’s nursery and the ceiling was down,” said Monika, holding back tears, “with your first born, there’s baby things… you don’t have as much attachment to your own things as you do baby things.”

READ MORE: Residents displaced by west Edmonton condo blaze looking for answers

The St. Jeans’ suite is below the burned out floor. They didn’t even need their full 20 minutes to grab their belongings.

“When you walk in with gumboots into standing water, into everything that you owned, you just shut down,” said Monika.

“You have to realize that pretty much everything left behind after today will be pretty much unrecoverable due to water.”

Fire investigators have since determined the blaze – which caused an estimated $10 million in damages – was started by a cigarette that was improperly extinguished in a flower pot.

READ MORE: Improperly disposed of cigarette likely cause of Edmonton condo fire

Residents are now trying to figure out what to do next. According to the condo board, “longer blocks of time to allow residents to recover larger items will be scheduled over the next several weeks.”

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At this time it’s not known exactly when residents will be allowed to return home for good, which is frustrating to many.

“Right now I’m in the situation where I don’t have a home,” said Renols Dehari, who lives in the building with his wife and daughter. The couple also has another baby on the way.

“This is ridiculous. I’m going from hotel to hotel and I don’t know. I don’t know what to say, I’m just basically in the middle of nowhere.”

While frustrating, the St. Jeans say they’ll start looking for a place to rent, adding they’re happy they were able to make it out of the fire with the things that matter most.

“We got our son out and we got our cats out,” said Monkia. “And we have each other.”

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News.

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