Two days after a fire destroyed a West End apartment block, displacing 35 people, a pair of area politicians have stepped up to help the evacuees as they attempt to get back on their feet.

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This article was published 29/12/2019 (474 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two days after a fire destroyed a West End apartment block, displacing 35 people, a pair of area politicians have stepped up to help the evacuees as they attempt to get back on their feet.

New Democratic Party MLA Lisa Naylor (Wolseley) and MP Leah Gazan (Winnipeg Centre) announced over the weekend that staff will be collecting donations at the Winnipeg Centre constituency office, located at 892 Sargent Ave.

Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan</p></p>

Winnipeg Centre MP Leah Gazan

The Thursday morning fire at the Vesta Apartments on Agnes Street began in an upper suite, spreading throughout the building and leading to extensive smoke and water damage, in addition to the wreckage wrought by the flames. The damage was so extensive that once residents evacuated, not even firefighters were advised to re-enter, leaving the evacuees with only the clothes on their backs and whatever they could grab on the way out. On Friday, the apartment block’s demolition began.

"I have nothing. I don’t have a home. I’ve been crying off and on, telling my partner that I just want to go home. But where’s home? I don’t have one anymore," Candace McKay, one of the evacuees, told the Free Press Friday.

In total, the Canadian Red Cross mobilized to provide 72 hours of emergency support to the evacuees, which included 31 adults and four children, but beyond that window, it was unclear what support would be provided. Some residents said they’d be staying with families, while others had still not settled on where they were headed next as the weekend went on.

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Ihor Holowczynsky at the scene of an apartment fire on Agnes Street on Boxing Day. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)</p>

Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Ihor Holowczynsky at the scene of an apartment fire on Agnes Street on Boxing Day. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

While Red Cross donations can’t be made specifically to assist the Vesta Apartment evacuees, financial support for any Manitobans affected by house fires can be sent to the Red Cross at 1111 Portage Ave., R3G 0S8; over the phone at 1-800-418-1111; or online.

A post on Gazan’s Facebook page said residents looking to help can visit the office today between 11 a.m., and 2 p.m., and during regular office hours during the week. Items being sought include all adult clothing, including plus sizes; children’s clothing for youth with sizing ranging from three-months old through youth extra large; baby supplies, including bottles, diapers, formula, diaper cream, and strollers); household supplies like towels, sheets, blankets, small kitchen appliances, utensils, dishes and cutlery; and suitcases and duffel bags.

Within a few hours of the post going out, it had been shared hundreds of times on various social media, and the office appeared to have collected a great deal of the items needed.

In a later post, Gazan wrote that there would likely be an updated list of items being collected, with details on specific needs of the affected residents.

ben.waldman@freepress.mb.ca

Ben Waldman

Ben Waldman
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