'Everything I own is in there': Abbotsford apartment fire evacuees facing losses, uncertainty

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused a large fire in an Abbotsford apartment building that’s forced hundreds from their homes.

On Wednesday, fire evacuees lined up through the day, hoping for word that some of their precious possessions or important documents had survived the blaze.

Some people, like Rio Hong, got good news.

“I got my passport back and my glasses that I have on now…and the laptop,” he said.

But not everyone was as fortunate.

“Everything I own is in there, everything -- gone,” said Ed Aubut.

The fire broke out Tuesday morning, causing extensive damage to the building that has roughly 80 apartments.

“I now have a skylight in my bathroom and my bedroom and I’m on the third floor of a four-storey building,” Aubut said. “The wall from my neighbour’s living room has collapsed into mine.”

Aubut is one of many residents who were not insured and are now trying to figure out what they will do after emergency assistance ends in a couple of days.

Amber Goyer and her family also did not have insurance for their rental unit.

“That was a big mistake, now we’re realizing. It’s completely starting over again,” she said.

Evacuee James Melan is in the same predicament. He fled with next to nothing when the fire began.

“Nothing except keys, wallet and phone and n where to live,” he said.

Art Turnball, 82, did have insurance. But he’s worried about his neighbours.

“The bulk of the people in that burned-out unit have no insurance,” he explained. “It’s going to be really tough. Some of them are going to need some real help.”

According to Emergency Management BC, about half of the people who lived in the building did not have content insurance.

Online fundraisers have been set up to help some evacuees including Goyer.

But others, like Audbut, say they have no family here and feel helpless.

He’s now contemplating returning to the U.S.

“I’m a dual citizen. I have more resources there as a disabled veteran,” he told CTV News. “No, I don’t want to move, but I don’t want to live in a park under a tarp either.”

Emergency Management BC says 117 families have registered for emergency help for 72 hours and local authorities may contact EMBC to if additional assistance is needed. These are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.