Most Lockwood Villa residents returned home Thursday after Jan. 11 fire

Most tenants from Chemainus' fire-evacuated Lockwood Villa returned home Thursday, while at least five folks from several suites remain in hotels until their places are liveable.

Canadian Red Cross staff said many Lockwood folks returned after spending six days in accommodations provided by Cowichan's Emergency Social Services.

But for those whose suites are still being cleaned of smoke and water damage, the Red Cross has extended their hotel stay for another week.

And unless the Red Cross finds those folks' friends and family to help, the Red Cross will extend their hotel stay again.

"They'll never be put out the street," said the Red Cross spokesman Gary Carleton.

"We take care of clients until they're back in their suites, or find other long-term accommodations."

Tenants who've 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 yank asbestos, and renovate the insured complex.

Tenants with content insurance are having claims settled.

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

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.

The Red Cross did client assessment and recovery work during Duncan's 2009 flood, Carleton said, noting the society also helped after a house fire on reserve land, off Boys Road, two years ago.

Folks needing calamity relief can call the Red Cross at 1-888-800-6493.

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