Six people were displaced when fire destroyed a house on Robarts Street this week. House fires in the Nanaimo area have people asking for help from the community through Gofundme fundraising pages. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Six people were displaced when fire destroyed a house on Robarts Street this week. House fires in the Nanaimo area have people asking for help from the community through Gofundme fundraising pages. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

People asking for help after houses burn down in Nanaimo and on Mudge Island

Gofundmes posted to help people get back on their feet after fires

House fires in the Nanaimo area have victims and their supporters asking for help from the community through Gofundme fundraising pages.

A fire on Mudge Island Wednesday that destroyed a home sparked a Gofundme campaign by the victim’s sister.

Aiko Shebib posted the Gofundme the same day for her sister Vanessa, whose home on Mudge Island was completlely destroyed by a fire that also spread into surround forest and started spot fires in the surround grass and forested areas.

Vanessa is a single mother of two who bought the property in 2017. She had insurance, but Aiko hopes to raise $30,000 to help with expenses that might not be covered by insurance.

Vanessa wants to rebuild on the site, said Aiko, who went on to say her sister feels embarrassed about asking the community for money.

“She does have insurance, but when you start looking at the cost of everything, like, just the cleanup could be $10,000 to truck all that garbage away,” she said. “She’s still in shock and just needs a minute to breathe and get her bearings.”

Vanessa, according to the Gofundme page, is the sole income earner for her family.

Aiko hopes the money raised will help her put a tiny house with water and electricity on the lot that Vanessa and her two children can live in while a new house is constructed.

“She won’t do the building because she doesn’t have a lot of experience in that area, but she can be there to help, at least cleaning up and taking away building materials and stuff,” Aiko said. “So that will start by getting her a tiny house and then she can start working on a bigger house.”

A second Gofundme was posted Friday following a fire that destroyed a rental house on Robarts Street early Thursday morning.

Lanaia Hemmingsen said she and her boyfriend lost everything they owned in the fire. They were among the four tenants in the house and two residents in a house next door who were displaced by the fire.

Hemmingsen, who was at work when the fire broke out, said she’d lived at 40 Robarts St. for about nine months prior to the fire and most of the tenants were “fairly long-term residents.”

“Everything’s gone,” she said. “We’re crashing with some friends.”

For the moment she is trying to get her bearings after losing everything she owns in the fire.

“Yeah, I’ve just kind of stopped feeling things because that’s what trauma does sometimes, right?” she asked.

Hemmingsen and her boyfriend – she had insurance, but her boyfriend did not – both work, but she said their incomes will not be able to cover the costs of replacing their belongings plus living expenses, such as the damage deposit and the first month’s rent for another apartment. She hopes to raise $10,000 through the Gofundme page.

“I don’t expect to meet the whole $10,000 goal, which is totally fine,” she said.



photos@nanaimobulletin.com
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