August 11, 2017 6:32 pm

Residents moving back home after devastating fire at Lethbridge seniors complex

It's been a long month away from home, but some residents of the Gardens retirement complex have started to move back in after a devastating fire. Joe Scarpelli has more.


Some seniors are moving back into their homes after being forced to flee Gardens At West Highlands retirement complex last month because of a fire.

Fire investigators say the blaze was accidental and started due to the improper disposal of a cigarette, temporarily displacing approximately 140 residents.

READ MORE: Cigarette found to be cause of Lethbridge senior home fire

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Mike Lavallee, chief operating officer for Seasons Retirement Communities – the parent company of Gardens At West Highlands – said about 50 residents had moved back in by Friday.

He said the process began last week and is being done in phases, adding 32 of the building’s 114 units won’t be ready for about a year.

“This is by far the most challenging event that we’ve had in taking care of our residents, absolutely, unequivocally,” Lavallee said.

He said he’s happy with the way things went because every resident and pet is safe.

“As bad as it is for the people who are still not home, it’s pretty good that they’re in a safe place and the most they can complain about is, ‘When can I come home?'”

Lavallee said some residents are staying at hotels and others at nearby retirement homes or with family.

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