It has been four days since a building fire in Calgary’s Bridgeland neighbourhood sent 23 residents out of their home, with no timeline on when they can return.
The building is owned by Homespace and is operated by the YWCA. It provides both support and housing for 23 women who reside in the building, including Kennarae Gibson.
On Saturday, at around 1:30 p.m., firefighters responded to smoke coming from the second floor of a building in the 400 block of 2 Avenue N.E.
According to the Calgary Fire Department, a pile of laundry caught fire. It was quickly put out by sprinklers but the water damage was extensive, and all residents had to be moved to other housing or temporary shelters.
“I grabbed my purse, that’s all I had time for,” Gibson said. “It was smoky — really, really smoky.
“We have nothing, not even a clean pair of underwear, no socks, no nothing. I don’t have a jacket and I know some of the girls don’t even have shoes.”
Gibson is currently staying at a nearby temporary shelter and shares the space with seven other women.
“We’re sleeping on mattresses on the floor,” she said. “I want to go home to my bed… it’s stressful.”
The YWCA said it is working to find solutions and is doing the best it can.
“We are working with both Homespace and other partners in the community, as well as our insurance to find ways to provide them with emergency supports,” said Carla Link, the YWCA’s communications and community relations director .
The organization relies on donations from the public and is asking people to help where they can. As for Gibson, she said anything will help.