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Calgarians support Bankview residents displaced by condo fire

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WATCH ABOVE: Calgarians and several local businesses have pitched in to help residents forced out of their Bankview condo by a fire days before Christmas. Silvana Benolich reports – Dec 23, 2019

A number of Calgarians and several city businesses have stepped up to help residents forced out of their homes just days before Christmas.

Fire ripped through the 56-unit Valhalla View condo building on the corner of 14 Street S.W. and 23 Avenue S.W. late Friday afternoon.

Firefighters worked through the night, finally getting the flames under control Saturday morning.

The Calgary Fire Department said the blaze significantly damaged the five-storey building.

READ MORE: Fire breaks out at southwest Calgary condo building

One restaurant in the Beltline area has partnered up with some other businesses to help feed those displaced by the fire on Christmas Eve. “What we’re offering is a home-cooked meal,” Cluck N Cleaver co-founder Francine Gomes said.

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“We’ve been able to put together — very quickly — a family dinner, so it would feed a family of four.”

The meals will be available for pickup from the Chuck N Cleaver location on 14 Street S.W. on Tuesday until 4:30 p.m.

Many others around the city have also stepped up to help. A Facebook page where people can connect and offer services has been set up, as well as a GoFundMe page.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. An investigator at the scene on Tuesday stated that, based on what he’d seen of the damage, it would not be unrealistic for residents to be out for a year or longer.

“There’s extreme damage, particularly [to] floors four and five,” Calgary Fire Department investigator Travis Thiessen said. “[It’s] virtually a total loss up there.”

Many condo residents had to leave virtually everything behind in the fire.

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“You don’t even know what to think or where to go,” resident Raylene Frehlich said.

READ MORE: ‘There are good people in this world’: Calgary fire victims get unexpected temporary homes

Frehlich, her husband Levi and their two-year-old daughter, lived on the third floor at Valhalla View.

They had no idea what they were going to do until local developer Brett Taylor offered up one of his vacant Bankview properties, rent-free.

“He said we could come live here and didn’t have to worry about anything — that there would be furniture and a Christmas tree,” Frehlich said. “When we got here there was even toothbrushes, towels — things you don’t think about that you’ll need.”

“I’ve been on the verge of tears for the past two days,” Levi Frehlich added. “It’s overwhelming.”

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.