Residents of a boarding house gutted by fire on Saturday have all found temporary homes.
Pastor Pete Harris said thanks to three women from government outreach organizations, local businesses and private citizens, those affected by the fire will at least have a roof over their heads for the next month.
The pastor, who runs the charity organization Another Chance Ministries, has been acting as a spokesperson of sort for the residents — many of which fled from the Pine Lodge home early Saturday morning with no shoes and little clothing. The residents were offered 72-hour emergency social services that found them a place to stay at the Sandman Inn and food at the neighbouring Denny’s restaurant, but that ran out Tuesday morning.
“I was really worried. I was going to have 18 people with no place to go,” said Pastor Pete. “By 6 p.m. on Tuesday the last group was being dropped off to their temporary housing. The emotions of the residents are as mixed as the number of people there are because now it’s going to all start sinking in about what happened.”
The Penticton Fire Department arrived to douse a shed in the backyard of a house on Ellis Street around 7:22 a.m. on Saturday. It is believed someone was living in the shed, and the flames from that fire extended to the house and destroyed it.
Pastor Pete said he picked up essential items for the residents at Wal-Mart, who chipped in to pay a quarter of the cost of the items that ranged from underwear to shoes. The Salvation Army put together food hampers for the residents and ABK Restorations, which is working on disaster cleanup of Pine Lodge, said they would put aside anything they find such as pictures or personal items for the residents.
“The needs are all going to be different and we don’t know what they all will be just yet. I put a query out to half a dozen churches to collect specific items and it will take about a week-and-a-half to gather those. I’m praying to be able to get enough of what I asked for to wardrobe the people, but there is no guarantee that is all going to come in or happen.”
Pastor Pete said the landlord of Pine Lodge has started to try and reimburse some of the rent money which has helped some residents find housing. The landlord has also been offering transportation and taken in a few of the residents into another house.
“Some of the stories we may get out of this is that they may have better life situations out of it. But in saying that, we don’t want everyone to back off of considering donating because there may be a plea coming out in a few weeks or the next month for a lot of furniture, household items and that kind of stuff,” said Pastor Pete.
For those wanting to donate immediately, Pastor Pete suggests doing so by either sending money or gift cards in $20 denominations from places such as Wal-Mart so the displaced residents can get the essential items they need. The mailing address for Another Chance Ministries Society is 198 Hatfield Place, Penticton, V2A 6M1, or contact Pastor Pete at 250-493-1631.