Mayumi Oue was in her basement suite on Thurston Place in west Abbotsford, nursing her 17-month-old daughter Miwa, when she heard a loud rumbling noise above her.
Thinking her landlords were washing their deck, she went outside to move her plants from under it, to protect them from soap.
Instead, she saw the structure above her on fire, with flames licking out the windows.
Mayumi phoned her husband, Shinji, who was working at his auto repair shop. He raced home, hearing only the scared cries of his wife and the word “fire,” unsure if his family was inside and in danger or not.
It was about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, when Tara Dizdar and her 9-month old daughter Grace would usually be taking a nap in the adjacent basement suite. They were instead at the grocery store. Tara got a phone call from the landlord, worried she was inside. When she came home, Tara saw the house in flames. She would have been badly burned, or worse, had she not gone shopping.
The families are now staying in a local hotel, anxious about their futures. They spoke to The News on Thursday morning, with just 24 hours remaining before their three-day stay at the hotel paid for by Emergency Social Services expires.
They haven’t been able to return to their suites to see if any of their belongings are salvageable.
Shinji and Mayumi are recent immigrants, running an auto-repair shop together. Mayumi, who does the shop’s finances and paperwork from home, is worried their computer, full of important documents, is damaged. In addition to Miwa, their 17-month-old, they have a five-year-old son, Takeshi.
Dizdar, a single mother on disability assistance originally from the U.S., doesn’t have any family in the country. She said her greatest fear is that she will end up homeless and have Grace taken from her by the government.
Both families didn’t have tenants’ insurance and are worried about finding housing in a tight rental market.
Dizdar’s mother has come to Abbotsford to help her get back on her feet, while the Oues are leaning on their friends for support.
Both families have startedd GoFundMe pages, in the hopes members of the public will help them get back on their feet.
Oue Family Go Fund Me page. Those wishing to donate items to the Oues can phone Mayumi at 778-833-4649 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dizdar Family Go Fund Me page. Those wishing to donate items to Dizdar can phone her at 778-908-2532.