As she sits at the Quality Inn, worried and frazzled, Christina Evanow has just one wish.
“I just want to keep the family together,” says Evanow, who lost her home in a fire last week.
The family of six had rented a house at the corner of 223rd Street and 119th Avenue for the past eight years.
At 5:33 a.m., Nov. 13, her youngest son Daniel woke up to the sound of crackling and what he thinks was an explosion.
As he rubbed his eyes, he could see a red glow through a pair of windows at the top of the staircase.
He yelled to wake up his sleeping siblings, Jessica and Matt. He grabbed the family’s zebra finches, Felix and Phoenix, then ran downstairs.
“He’s the hero,” says his mom, as the Grade 8 student walks into the hotel room after school.
Evanow, her husband Bill and three sons – Matt, Liam and Daniel – are living in the Quality Inn with their birds and fish, Tumbles. Their daughter Jessica, 20, is staying with her boyfriend.
Their hotel stay has been extended to Nov. 26. Meanwhile, the Evanows are struggling to find a house that will fit all six of them.
The fire that ravaged the 70-year-old farm house, one the first two original homes in downtown Maple Ridge, destroyed everything the Evanows owned.
“They are going to need everything to re-establish themselves and restart,” said Pete Evanow, Bill’s brother, who is helping the family house hunt and field phone calls about donations.
“We are willing to accept anything. It’s such a substantial loss.”
The Evanows have been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received thus far.
Liam, a standout football player at Samuel Robertson Technical secondary, got his size 17 shoes.
His football team held a surprise birthday party for him at the hotel last week. Strangers have been dropping by the hotel with food and donations, and the Quality Inn is helping store them.
Jessica, who is studying fashion design at the University of the Fraser Valley, lost her modeling portfolio and all the possessions she’d worked hard to purchase with her own money. A fridge, new bed, mattress, microwave and expensive text books were torched as flames raced up the side of the house to her bedroom on the second floor. She was getting ready to move out on her own.
Christina Evanow, meanwhile, is trying to salvage what she can from the house and be a pillar of support. Her husband Bill has returned to work as a caterer.
Meanwhile, Ridge Meadows RCMP continue to investigate the fire, one of three blazes set within the span of an hour in the downtown core on Nov. 13.
Officers have canvassed the neighbourhood for witnesses and are checking surveillance footage, but have yet to identify any suspects.
Donations to the Evanow family can be made at any TD Canada Trust Bank (Branch: 9640 Account No.: 6645289) or via Pay Pal to email@example.com.
• If you have household items or other enquiries about donations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.