Syrian refugee family displaced by Mississauga townhouse fire

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A three-alarm blaze has left nine homes damaged and displaced several families. Among them, is a family that moved to Canada from Syria less than two years ago. Now they’re left to figure out how they’ll start over again. Shallima Maharaj reports – Oct 7, 2017

Khaled Alawad and his family moved to Canada in pursuit of a better life. Now, they are struggling to comprehend how to start over again.

They moved from Syria less than two years ago.

“My documents, I need my documents,” he told Global News on Saturday. “Everything gone. Clothes? Now we’re without clothes.”

Their townhouse, located near Bloor Street and Dixie Road in Mississauga, is now charred beyond recognition.

His children’s school supplies are gone. So are their Halloween costumes. They had planned on celebrating the tradition for the first time.

Investigators say the three-alarm blaze began in one of the units and quickly spread to eight others. The emergency call came in at around 2:15 a.m.

Alawad says between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., he saw a light flickering by his window. He opened it and found a fire burning in his backyard.

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“We got outside immediately and I knocked the door for all the neighbours. ‘There is fire! There is fire!'”

READ MORE: Syrian refugees embrace Winnipeg community after messages of hate

Alawad says he was involved in an altercation early Friday evening, with a man he had never seen before. The stranger accused him of stealing a bicycle.

“He knocked the door hard,” he explained. “He said, ‘This is my bike… I lost it six days ago.'”

The bike, which was in front of the house, belongs to Alawad’s son. He says the family has had it for six months.

Their exchange became heated. He went inside his home, but says the man pounded on the door to the point of damaging it.

“We don’t feel safe, me and my family. I cannot send my children to the school and I cannot go outside.”

A resident, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Kim, says she overheard the exchange.

“When the gentleman in the burnt house would not open the door, then he stormed off and said, ‘I will come back to kill your family,'” she recalled.

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Peel Regional Police are not linking the incidents. The Office of the Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate. According to police, damages are now pegged at $2 million.

“There was an incident call that came in earlier,” Const. Bancroft Wright replied, when asked about an altercation. “Whether or not it has anything to do with the fire, that has yet to be confirmed.”

Alawad and his family have tenants’ insurance, but neighbours say not everyone did. Peel Social Services have been helping those who have been displaced.

What sparked the devastating fire has yet to be determined.

While the Alawad family is grateful to be alive, their sense of hopefulness has been marred by their loss.

“My kids yesterday, they tell me if we cannot live here, we should go back to Syria,” said Alawad’s Canadian-born wife, Judy.

The family will likely stay with friends over the next few days. Beyond that, they do not know.

READ MORE: Almost 800 Yazidi women and girls who survived ISIS are now in Canada as refugees