It’s been five days since she frantically called 911, grabbed her wallet and ID and fled the apartment she has called home for 17 years and Fatima Zahra is still in the green robe she quickly put on in the mad dash.
“I can’t close my eyes, I am scared, I always see the fire in front of me, when they took me outside I could watch the fire, I couldn’t believe that was happening.” she said.
“Everything I own in my life it was in that suite and I know it, and today, now you see me wearing this old rag coat, it’s all I have.”
The 61-year-old was stepping out of the shower on Dec. 12 when she saw a bright orange light coming from her balcony — her couch outside was on fire.
Zahra stayed in a hotel for a few days and has now been moved to another accommodation. She said she collected a lot of furniture and fabric over the years, now all feared lost.
“I have this sewing room, I’m a seamstress but I have everything in bolts… probably five thousand fabrics and I lost seven machines.”
According to the ownership group of Mayfair Place, Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (CAPREIT) 50 units have been impacted. “It’s believed a cigarette that was disposed of from another balcony, started the fire.” Said Mark Kenney, President and CEO of CAPREIT.
“It’s really sad, especially at this time of year,” added Kenney, who said the company is offering to put displaced residents in hotels as well as move them into another building, owned by the same company.
The fire triggered a large response from the Calgary Fire Department. Kenney said a lot of the damage is from the water, tallying close to one million dollars.
Fatima Zahra also suffers from diabetes and has not left her building since March when the pandemic started.
“I’m normally a happy, cheerful person,” she said. “But I’m afraid, this is just all too much to process.”
She explained as tears puddled around the two masks she was wearing on her face.
She unfortunately doesn’t have tenant insurance.