Some Lockwood Villa tenants still in hotel

Most tenants who had to be evacuated after a Jan. 11 fire at their Chemainus apartment building have been able to go home.

Six people who live in Chemainus’ fire-evacuated Lockwood Villa apartment building remain in hotels as they wait to be able to return to their suites.

“They’re still up in the air about when they can go back,” Gary Carleton, the Canadian Red Cross community planning and response co-ordinator, said Monday. “It could be this week, or it could be in the next couple of weeks; it depends which suite they’re in. It’s wait and see.”

Red Cross staff said many Lockwood residents returned home Jan. 17 after spending six days in accommodations provided by Cowichan’s Emergency Social Services.

Tenants who have gone home had little or no suite damage.

“But the restoration company, Belfor, has determined part of the common area (lobby) has asbestos, so a couple of people can’t return until that’s fixed,” said Carleton. “Also, some people in hotels can’t return because they’re waiting for fire-approved doors for their suites, and those were to take four to six weeks’ delivery.”

It was believed Belfor, the lead in Lockwood’s recovery, has subcontracted tradespeople to remove asbestos and renovate the insured complex.

Tenants with content insurance are having claims settled.

While some residents did not have tenant insurance, Carleton said the Red Cross is not able to accept direct donations for them.

Instead, people can make donations to Red Cross Disaster Management for the B.C. Coastal Region, and those donations go to families who suffer disasters, explained Carleton, adding that anyone who would like to donate can contact any Red Cross office for information.

“We’re working with other agencies and making sure folks are in a safe place,” said Carleton.

Smoking in bed is the suspected cause of the early-morning Jan. 11 blaze that saw 50 suites evacuated, the assistant to the fire commissioner has stated.

— With files from Peter Rusland