“We are pretty sure we lost everything.”
Three days after fire ravaged several units at the Tamarind Westside apartments in Abbotsford, that’s what Matthew Tanner told The Progress.
Matthew and his partner Kyla Dove are both Chilliwack high school grads who work in Chilliwack but lived together at the Tamarind.
And not only did they likely lose all their worldly possessions, mementos, photographs and more, their renters’ insurance application was right their on the kitchen counter.
It was at 6 a.m. on May 3 when fire alarms went off on their fourth floor apartment.
“As we looked out the kitchen window, past the renters’ insurance application on the counter, we could see smoke billowing past,” Matthew wrote on a GoFundMe he set up. “We knew this would be bad, but we did not know that we were about to lose our first home together for good.”
The couple started to bang on doors on their way out but when Matthew hit the door in the unit across the hall he saw flames engulfing their balcony from below.
“At this point we had no more time to spare and escaped down the emergency stairwell,” he said.
And while Matthew thinks they lost everything, at this point they don’t know. Flames didn’t hit their apartment but the water damage might have been catastrophic. From the street it can be seen that the roof collapsed into their apartment so if the water from the fire crews didn’t damage everything, the constant rain all week might have.
A day after the fire, Matthew said they were told that residents of a few units each day were being allowed to go in to recover what they can. But only from floors one to three.
“The fourth floor in its entirety is not accessible at this time due to dangers from damage to the roof.”
Both Matthew and Kyla are sentimental, they are collectors, and they lost many irreplaceable things.
“My dad passed away from cancer and there were a lot of personal mementos there,” he said. “All our mementos as a couple. My dad was a big Canucks fan and I had so many jerseys.”
Matthew only recently moved in but Kyla had lived in the apartment for nearly seven years.
”She is exceptionally sentimental,” he said. “She had started to remark that the apartment was just starting to feel like our space, after it being her space for so long.”
Kyla’s master’s degree was hung proudly on the wall. Her books she used for work, yearbooks from Chilliwack Secondary School, her Lego, puzzle and board game collection. All likely gone.
“The irreplaceable things hit the hardest,” Matthew said. “Mementos of family and of our relationship. I am sad to lose reminders of my dad…. an award I received from the Fraser Valley RCMP from 2013. We are sad to lose our pet fish and frog. We are sad to lose all of our Valentine’s letters, cards and Polaroids from our relationship. Stuffed animals from Kyla’s childhood which we hoped to pass on to our kids one day. The physical history of our entire lives. The list goes on.
“Really we are just wrapping our heads around starting to rebuild our lives 33 years in. Where do you even begin?”
Of course, Matthew and Kyla know they are just one couple among many people who have lost in this fire.
Numerous online fundraisers have been set up for tenants who lost in the fire.
Matthew and Kyla’s GoFundMe is here: gofund.me/5a8047b1.
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