Mohammad Al Zamel, left, his father Tarek and siblings Alaa, Dwea and Walaa stand behind fire line tape at their home on Strickland Street on Monday. They and their mother Raneen and brother Hamed were displaced after an electrical fire Friday night made their home uninhabitable. The family, which didn’t have renters’ insurance, is now trying to replace furniture and other belongings. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Syrian family in Nanaimo rebuilding following house fire

Family displaced by fire on Strickland Street had been planning to move later this summer

A Nanaimo family from Syria needs help to replace furnishings and other belongings after a fire in their home on the weekend.

The Al Zamel family was celebrating a child’s birthday Friday when a malfunction started a fire in an electrical power bar. The fire heavily damaged the basement of the house they were living in on Strickland Street and caused smoke damage throughout the upstairs of the home where the family of seven has lived for three years.

“Friday night we were just sitting in the living room, me and my sister Walaa, and the alarm went and smoke started to come up,” said Mohammad, the Al Zamel eldest son. “I went to the kitchen and there was nothing. I went to the outside, fire was coming from the window.”

RELATED: Eight displaced after fire in Nanaimo’s south end

Mohammad alerted the homeowner who called the fire department.

The Al Zamels will be staying with a friend for about one month until they move to another house, a move that was planned for late August.

“We had a year of sponsorship and now they’re just very good friends,” said Nancy Robinson, a former member of a private sponsorship group that helped bring the Al Zamels to Canada. “They’re just absolutely the most wonderful family you could ever imagine and it’s just so, so sad … They were moving in a month and this happened.”

Neighbours have stopped by to offer donations and AZ Sponsorship Group – a new group formed to help bring more of the Al Zamels’ family members to Canada – has also set up an account to receive donations to help the family replace furniture and other smoke-damaged belongings.

Mohammad said the family, which did not have renters’ insurance, needs beds and other furnishings to start over. A neighbour stopped by while the family was at their former home Monday.

“The community’s very lovely. They support us when this happened,” Mohammad said.

Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo emergency program manager, said the family was supported through that program, which provided them with lodging for 72 hours and basic sanitary items, but she said it’s really important for renters to carry insurance coverage for their personal belongings.

“We’re seeing more people getting it now and we haven’t had as many instances where people have to go for support … that’s a huge message for people,” Lindsay said. “Get the renters’ insurance because if you don’t have it, it’s gone … Even just to replace the contents. I’ve heard people say, ‘Well, I don’t have anything that worth anything,’ but you still have to replace it. It’s still expensive to replace. It still costs you money to get new clothes or your furniture.”

Anyone who would like to help the Al Zamel family replace their belongings can make cash donations c/o AZ Sponsorship Group at Coastal Community Credit Union.
Like us on
Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Nanaimo challenges families to Instagram their park explorations

ParkIt challenge set up to offer prizes to cap off days at the park

Nanaimo RCMP want speeding motorists to ‘slow the blazes down’

Police raise alarm after seeing 400-per cent rise in excessive speeding tickets last month

Top central Vancouver Island health official retires

Island Health says Dr. Paul Hasselback’s replacement to be named shortly

17-year-old girl from Nanaimo reported missing

RCMP asking for help finding Trisha Harry

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

World’s biggest Nanaimo bar confirmed, but it’s not in Nanaimo

Two Ontario children set the bar high with successful biggest Nanaimo bar world record attempt

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Most Read