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Maple Ridge residents face uncertain future after fire

Plans to rebuild damaged sections of Edge on Edge 2 building
The scene at the fire on Saturday morning. (Traci Walton/Special to The News)

The residents of the fire damaged Edge on Edge 2 building, and other neighbours of the Edge 3 apartment development that burned to the ground in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 10, are questioning what happens next.

Dave Schneider rented a house on Brown Avenue right next door to what is now the site of charred rubble, where Edge 3 had been under construction. The five-storey apartment building had reached the stage in its construction where it was closed in, with windows installed, but still exposed plywood and studs.

“A cop came banging on my door at about 10 (minutes) to 12 on Friday night. ‘Get out! You’ve got to go now!’” he recalled.

Schneider roused his father, who is almost 70. Walking outside there was an “orange haze,” and the flames on Edge 3 were shooting into the sky.

“Just stepping out the door, it felt like 1,000 degrees, it hit you in the face,” recalled Schneider.

His dad tried to get into his truck, parked in the driveway, to move it to safety, but it felt like the back of his head was burning from the radiant heat. A first responder and a neighbour helped move the senior to safety, at the parking lot of nearby No Frills.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge fire chief gives update on downtown fire

From a distance, Schneider watched the firefighters battle the blaze for hours, and was impressed as firefighters from neighbouring cities came to joining the fight.

“The amount of response involved was mind boggling,” he said.

Burnt and burning debris was showering down into the neighbourhood, and soon the little house he rented was on fire. Then he saw smoke pouring out of the fifth wheel trailer he had parked there. He knew he was losing everything, and it wasn’t all insured.

“It was devastating. It didn’t really dawn an me until Sunday how much we’ve lost,” he said. “We’re homeless – staying with friends and family.”

Standing outside of the gutted house on Monday morning, asked what he’s going to do, the welder said simply “We’ll rebuild.”

His daughter Cadence is organizing an online fundraiser for her father and grandfather on gofundme. “Father and grandfather left homeless by fires” is the headline.

Residents of Edge on Edge 2, on 121st Avenue, are also hearing “we’ll rebuild.”

The plan is to restore the damaged sections of the structure, without demolishing the entire building.

Traci Walton lived on their third floor, facing the new construction site.

“I woke up at 11:30 a.m. , and I could smell smoke and heard sounds, and I thought ‘Who’s the idiot having a campfire?’”

She looked out her window, and saw smoke coming out of the partly completed building. Then the fire alarm went off at Edge 2, because of the smoke. She dressed, got her two Chihuahuas, and rushed outside. Already the Edge 3 was fully engulfed in flames.

Saturday at noon, she came to look at her building, and saw the damage, firefighters still working, and a cascade of water pouring off her balcony.

Now she doesn’t know what’s left, or if everything she had is lost.

That was the situation for many residents.

Those who lived in the western side of the building, and the front, where hopeful that the damage would be minimal on their suites. However, on Monday morning they were still not allowed inside, and the entire property has been fenced off.

Property manager Chris Brown of Fraser Property Management said the plan now is to rebuild the damaged sections of building, but all residents will be displaced for a lengthy time.

He said even the westernmost units suffered water damage, and the underground parking is flooded to an undetermined extent. A restoration company was going to start pumping it out on Monday.

“There was a creek running out of the west end of the building,” Brown said.

The buildings residents who turned up there Monday are staying with loved ones, and making plans to get an Airbnb for the future. More than 200 have been displaced.

“At least nobody was lost,” is a common sentiment.

READ ALSO: How to help families affected by the Maple Ridge fire

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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