West Island community rallies to help Dollard-des-Ormeaux fire victims

Click to play video: 'West Island community rallies to help Dollard-des-Ormeaux fire victims'
West Island community rallies to help Dollard-des-Ormeaux fire victims
WATCH: Montreal's West Island community is rallying to support residents of an apartment building in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. Many were left homeless after a devastating fire overnight Saturday. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, those working to help the tenants say much more is needed to get them back on their feet. – Jun 7, 2021

West Island residents are pulling together to support residents of Westwood House, an apartment building at 37 Brunswick Blvd. in Dollard-des-Ormeaux , who were left homeless by a devastating fire over the weekend.

The fire at the apartment complex overnight Saturday has left at least 75 families homeless and, according to firefighters, at least seven of the apartments will have to be demolished.

The Red Cross has put people up at hotels and because of the number of people left homeless, the agency hasn’t set a date yet for when the tenants have to leave.

But Sunday afternoon, Anastasia Assimakopoulos and a few friends decided to do something to help tenants who have nowhere to go just yet.  She and friends created a Facebook group titled Brunswick Fire Donations and Volunteers, asking for help.

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“Everyone’s really touched by what happened,” she said, sorting donated goods in a room at the Holiday Inn.

“Everyone has friends of their kids, or knows somebody who has lived in that building, who currently lives in that building that’s been affected.”

For now she and others are collecting small items.

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“Wipes, hygiene products, anything that’s like a little bit more difficult to come by we want to make sure that we fill the gap,” she explained.

Assimakopoulos pointed out, however, they will need other things since the tenants will have to rely on help for a while.

“It’s gonna be today, next week, a month from now,” she pointed out.

She and friends have organized a clothing drive for the weekend of June 12th at the Hellenic Community Of West Island.

According to Zahava Grinfeld, director of operations at York Holdings, which owns the apartment building, a donation drop off point has also been set up at 33 Brunswick Brunswick.

“Shopping carts will be put outside the building,” she explained, “and our staff will be picking up the goods and bringing them inside.  People can bring food, water, toiletries, clothes, especially.”

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She’s asking the public to not donate furniture yet.

Mary Kosak, one of the tenants who’s staying at the Holiday Inn Pointe Claire courtesy of the Red Cross, said some residents are having it hard.

“There’s a lady here that’s lost everything,” she told Global News.  “She’s still in her PJ’s.  She has no clothes left.”

Another tenant, Carol Claremont, waiting to go inside the apartment building for her cats as inspectors comb through charred debris Monday morning, was thinking of her friend.

“Her place burnt down, her cats all died,” she told Global News. “I can’t go inside my apartment. I still have animals in there, my motorcycles are flooded in the basement.”

Property staff began accompanying some tenants into their apartments that were deemed safe by inspectors, Monday afternoon to retrieve some items.  Grinfeld said

that it’s too soon to know when or how many people can move back in permanently, but that they planning to find ways to house people.

“We’re looking at relocating some of them into our other buildings where we have vacancies,” she said.

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Montreal police are still investigating to find out how the blaze started.

Click to play video: 'Nearly 150 apartments evacuated during overnight fire in Montreal’s Dollard-des-Ormeaux suburb'
Nearly 150 apartments evacuated during overnight fire in Montreal’s Dollard-des-Ormeaux suburb

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