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Support pours in for victims of Peterborough apartment fire

Click to play video: 'Fire rips through Peterborough apartment building' Fire rips through Peterborough apartment building
Crews remain on scene following an apartment building fire in Peterborough early Sunday – Sep 20, 2020

Several GoFundMe pages and Facebook groups have been created to support the victims of an apartment fire near downtown Peterborough early Sunday morning.

The fire, which broke out at around 3:20 a.m., destroyed several apartments, leaving around 30 people displaced.

Read more: Peterborough woman charged with attempted murder, arson following apartment fire

Liisa Speck created the TVM Mansion Fire Donations page on Facebook after suggestions were made in another Peterborough-based group to create a separate page to keep all donations organized.

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“I’ve been getting a lot of inbox messages about donation drop-off locations, which I’m still not sure about at this point,” she said. “As I get updates on what they need, I update the pinned post.”

Speck tells Global News Peterborough that residents have inquired about donating everything from toiletries and clothing to furniture and toys.

Anyone who has questions or has items to donate can go to that Facebook page to inquire.

The City of Peterborough is also asking for gift cards to be donated for the victims, who are lodging at a hotel, as they have no space for large donated items at this time.

People who want to donate gift cards for the residents can drop them off at the main Peterborough Fire Services fire hall at 210 Sherbrooke St. between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.

“Thank you to everyone who has stepped forward to offer support to these residents who have lost their homes and their belongings,” stated Jodi DeNoble, manager of emergency and risk management with the City of Peterborough.

“Once the residents have plans for their housing, they’ll have a better idea of the items they may need and when they can accept any donated items. Until then, gift cards will help them get items specific to meet their needs at this time.”

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Residents are now working with community agencies to find alternative housing, including Aaron Livingston, who lived in an upstairs apartment with his son.

“I was supposed to have my son, but I didn’t go grab him (from his mother’s).  I just had this feeling.  It was weird,” he said.

Livingston says he and his brother actually just returned to his apartment at the time of the fire.

He got out with not much more than the clothes on his back.

“It went up pretty quick.  The guy who saved his kids off the balcony.  It was my brother, me and him who got his girls off the third floor,” he added.

Meanwhile, investigators with the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal are on-site on Monday and likely again on Tuesday to investigate the fire.

“We’ve determined the fire originated in the third floor of this multi-unit structure,” said Richard Derstroff, fire investigations supervisor. “We’re in the middle of documenting the scene, analyzing the fire patterns and looking into the building performance as well.”

In all, three structures at Hunter and Park streets have been directly impacted by the fire, which travelled from unit to unit.

Click to play video: 'Attempted murder, arson charges laid following Peterborough apartment fire' Attempted murder, arson charges laid following Peterborough apartment fire
Attempted murder, arson charges laid following Peterborough apartment fire – Sep 20, 2020

Derstroff said there is no estimate of damage cost but that the buildings are significantly damaged.

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“The city has already put in a non-occupancy order so that gives you an indication. It’s not just the fire damage but the units below are significantly water damaged by the water used to extinguish the fire,” he said.

Derstroff said all fire alarms were working and that this serves as a good reminder to have a fire plan and to know the exits.

Peterborough police say early Sunday morning, they observed a woman walking in the area with visible burn marks to her clothing.

“Witnesses indicated a person of interest walking in the area. Officers approached her a block away and spoke to her. We formed the grounds that she was responsible for starting the fire. We made an arrest and transported her to the police station, where she was held in custody,” said Staff Sgt. Dan MacLean.

According to police, the fire was intentionally set in an apartment where a male was sleeping in a bedroom.

That male got out of the building without injuries.

Kristina Saunders, 35, of Hunter Street West in Peterborough, is charged with attempted murder and arson with disregard for human life.

She was held in custody for a court appearance on Monday,.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the fire to contact them at 705-876-1122.

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