Community rallies around residents displaced by massive apartment fire

Just down the street from where fire tore through an apartment building on Friday night, volunteers are sorting through bags upon bags of donations.

The room set up in the common area in another building in the apartment complex on Quail Ridge Road is filling up with piles of clothes, shoes, toiletries, canned goods, pet food, books, and other things the evacuees might need. Organizer Diana Hildebrand says she’s been overwhelmed by how many people came to drop things off.

“It was car after car,” says Hildebrand. You looked out, and every time one person would pull out of the spot, someone else would pull right back in.”

The donations are for the 180 people who can no longer go back home. No one was injured in the blaze, but residents say they have lost everything.

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One of the displaced families is Matthew and Mary Rose Hicks and their two young children.

“All the things we had in that apartment are gone,” says Mary Rose.

The Hicks family is shaken, grieving, and Matthew feels angry as well. Firefighters say they are still investigating the cause of the fire, and Matthew wants to know it.

“I have two kids, and if they didn’t get out in time – who knows what I would have come home to?” he says.

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Still, the family is grateful for the support from family, friends, and complete strangers.

“I’ve been getting emails, I’ve been getting phone calls from people in the St. James area, wanting to help me with clothing, food,” says Matthew.

Someone from the same apartment complex event reached out to offer the family her apartment after she moves out in June, Matthew says.

Meanwhile, the donations at Quail Ridge are coming in so quickly, volunteers are sending donors to the Assiniboia West Rec Centre, which is also collecting for the evacuees.

Diana Hildebrand says it was just something the community had to do.

“We have to do something, we can’t just sit there,” she says. “These people have lost everything.”

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Click to play video: 'Winnipeg fire crews respond to morning fire at seniors-only apartment'

Winnipeg fire crews respond to morning fire at seniors-only apartment

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