Refugees escape house fire

A house fire in Nanaimo displaced a homeowner and a Syrian refugee family of seven.

Firefighters responded to the fire Friday night, after smoke alarms sounded.

All eight people in the house were able to get out, but the home was badly damaged by the time crews arrived and extinguished the fire.

Homeowner Charlo Going welcomed the family into his home two years ago. The couple has five children, ages two to 16. They had been celebrating their youngest child’s birthday before the fire broke out.

“They’re so resilient. They’ve been through so much — escaping from Syria, staying in Jordan and Lebanon and coming here,” said family friend Lynn Leduc.

Investigators said the fire started downstairs, and was likely caused by a power bar that malfunctioned. Nanaimo fire chief Karen Fry confirmed the fire was an accident.

No one was injured in the fire, but a pet bird did not make it out.

The homeowner had insurance, but the family didn’t. Sponsors who helped bring the family to Canada are now trying to help them rebuild their lives.

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