Some Parkland Place residents may be out of their units for months

Parkland Place apartment residents Geraldine and Garnet Pearce watch with their dog as firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the 620 Dobson Road apartment complex. - Andrew Leong
Parkland Place apartment residents Geraldine and Garnet Pearce watch with their dog as firefighters work to extinguish a fire at the 620 Dobson Road apartment complex.
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Many residents of Parkland Place returned to their homes Tuesday night following Sunday’s huge fire at the Dobson Road apartment complex.

But people living in about 22 of the 140 units in the complex were still displaced due to smoke and water damage.

“Those that are out may be out for weeks and maybe months,’’ said Emergency Social Services manager Sybille Sanderson.

The Emergency Reception Centre temporary headquarters at the Island Savings Centre to house residents in need of accommodation have been removed. Those who can’t return to their homes are either staying in hotels or with family or friends.

“We have made all the arrangements through Saturday morning,’’ said Sanderson. “On Friday at one o’clock, we will be meeting with them at the Island Savings Centre. Maybe more of them can go home.’’

For those in the most heavily damaged units, “some of them have already been talking about they’ve been out looking for another place to live,’’ said Sanderson.

Most of the tenants in the damaged section have been back to assess their situations.

“They had an opportunity to see, ‘what’s my apartment look like?’’’ said Sanderson. “They’ve been able to go in and get things out of their suites but they’re not able to stay there.’’

For the remaining people still being assisted, “now we need to look at options,’’ Sanderson said. B.C. Housing personnel is involved to offer help.

Duncan Fire Department chief Mike McKinlay said the units on the third and fourth floor at the south end remain blocked just outside the firewall. Units have been locked until insurance company representatives can get in to take a look. After that, it’s on to the investigation.

“Monday, we’ll get in there and tear it all apart and see if we can determine what caused it,’’ said McKinlay.

Meanwhile, resident Gerry Masuda was impressed with the handling of the crisis by ERC team leader John Elzinga and his staff composed of Cowichan Valley Regional District, City of Duncan and Municipality of North Cowichan personnel plus Island Savings Centre employees.

“All acted with calm professional competence with reassuring smiles,’’ Masuda wrote in a letter to the News Leader Pictorial. “I was impressed by the positive attitude of those whose apartments suffered damage from the fire. I was impressed by the relatives and friends who provided shelter but I was especially impressed by the Duncanites who came to the ERC and invited complete strangers into their homes.’’

Masuda noted he spent two nights sleeping on an air mattress at the ERC. He was surprised only 25 to 30 mattresses were set up for the temporarily homeless.

However, “this small number was adequate to meet our needs and was based on previous emergencies where Duncanites rallied to help those in need,’’ he pointed out.

Masuda’s unit was at the north end and not damaged so he returned to his home Tuesday night. But everyone was displaced for at least the two nights with power, heat and water cut off because of the fire.

“The response to the fire at the Parkland Place apartments is another reason why we Duncanites can be proud of our City of Duncan and the CVRD,’’ raved Masuda.

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