Emergency care for Langley City fire victims extended

Some residents of Rainbow Lodge's Elm building could be home by end of April, others have a much longer wait in store

The provincial government has extended funding for emergency housing for the more than 100 residents displaced by Wednesday’s deadly fire at the Elm building in Langley City.

“Because of the exceptional circumstances involving the vulnerable population with complex housing and care needs, Emergency Management BC has extended the emergency social services” for those impacted by the fire at the Elm building from the usual 72 hours to three weeks, announced Justice Minister Shirley Bond on Friday.

The senior couple who were rescued from the fire and listed in critical condition last week have been released from hospital. Another elderly man originally in critical condition is doing “much better” and is expected to fully recover, said Jeannette Dagenais, administrator for the Langley Lions Seniors Housing Society.

It doesn’t appear there will be any details from police or fire about the elderly man who died in the fire. There are some reports the man was in his 80s and was found by a firefighter on the floor of the hallway very near the second floor suite where the fire started.

Thick black smoke enveloped the building quickly, forcing firefighters to rescue residents over their balconies instead of through the hallways.

Langley City fire department isn’t saying what caused the deadly fire, only that the investigation has been concluded both by City fire investigators and by RCMP, said fire chief Rory Thompson on Monday.

Dagenais said morale among the more than 100 residents displaced from their homes is “amazingly fantastic considering what they have been through,” she said. “My staff have worked very hard and I think the residents are feeling heard and cared for.”

The emergency funds will help the displaced residents until April 28. By then, it’s hoped residents from the north wing and part of the west wing will be able to move back, she said.

Thompson walked through the building on Monday and said progress is being made. The restoration will be thorough, including cleaning all the ducts for smoke and painting the cinder block in the elevator shaft to seal in smoke odours.

A discussion about sprinklers will be discussed through the insurance company and the City, said Dagenais.

A resiliency centre will be set up, including representatives from the Salvation Army, Red Cross, ministry of social development and BC Housing.

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