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'It's not going to be easy': 7 displaced by Abbotsford fire desperate to find new housing together
VANCOUVER - On the day her home was destroyed by fire, Brieanne Kirkpatrick had to take a horse across the border.
Before she went to bed Sunday night, she made sure her passport was in her purse, because she didn't want to forget it in the morning.
When the home on Princess Street in Abbotsford went up in flames around midnight, she grabbed her purse as she evacuated with her daughter and boyfriend.
"I knew that if I didn't have my passport to cross that border, I wasn't getting this horse done and I wasn't doing my job," Kirkpatrick said.
After dealing with the fallout from the fire in the morning, she delivered the horse in the afternoon.
"My mind was totally on my job," she said. "I think that's what kind of got me through the day."
Now that the job is done, the reality of what happened has begun to sink in, Kirkpatrick told CTV News Vancouver.
A total of seven people lived in the home full-time. In addition to Kirkpatrick, her daughter, and boyfriend, the trio had four roommates who lived upstairs. Her two sons from a previous relationship also stayed overnight in the house regularly, though they weren't there the night the fire broke out.
Five cats, two dogs and two fish also made it out of the house, but two pet rabbits died in blaze.
The group received Emergency Social Services assistance for the first 72 hours after the fire, and Kirkpatrick said Wednesday that they've been granted an extension of those services until noon on Saturday.
They're currently staying in three hotel rooms, but they're desperately searching for a new residence they can all move into together, she said.
"We've done really good together," Kirkpatrick said. "We know each other well enough. And if we can stay together, I think that would be great for all of us."
The advantage of having six adults under one roof is that it reduces the financial burden of rent. Even so, Kirkpatrick said, most of her roommates are on fixed or limited incomes, and few listings are available in their price range.
"With the amount of people we had, we were able to make it work without being, you know, strained," she said. "And now, looking at it, you know, we still have the same amount of people, but that's an additional five to eight hundred dollars more a month that we would have to figure out how we're going to come up with."
There's also the issue of timing. The group needs housing as soon as possible, but many of the homes for rent aren't available until Nov. 1.
To help bridge the gap, Kirkpatrick's cousin Teresa Atchison launched a GoFundMe page. Proceeds will help the family and their roommates pay for the cost of hotel rooms, food and necessities while they try to find somewhere to stay long-term.
"We all have to start from scratch," Kirkpatrick said. "Some of us are a little bit better off than others, but, you know, it's not going to be easy."
So far, the fundraiser has brought in more than $1,200 of its $10,000 goal. Kirkpatrick said she's grateful for every contribution, but she singled out one donor in particular:
"The gentleman who bought the horse, he even made a contribution to my GoFundMe, so, you know, it's really nice," she said.