James Legge is confused and angry. After a fire took place Friday at his Wellesley Street East highrise, he is unable to return to see his cats, let alone get inside his apartment.
The 51-year-old had just returned from visiting his daughter when he discovered that he was not allowed into his apartment, forcing him to leave his two cats, his medication, his I.D., and several belongings behind.
“I have over $3,000 worth of valuables in there, my collection of over 2,000 dinky cars and I have antique coins inside,” he said.
The fire began around 5 p.m. on the 24th floor on the northwest side of the 200 Wellesley St. E. building and has affected 1,700 tenants. At the time, 1,200 people were inside.
The exact cause is still being investigated, but residents blame a hoarder.
Legge, who also has a metal disc in his leg, had to go to the Wellesley Community Centre to get new medication and clothes.
He has no insurance and he is concerned about the cost of replacing his belongings. Now, he will stay with his daughter and three grandchildren at her home in the Danforth area.
“This is ridiculous. Make sure your balconies are cleared,” Legge said.
Aissa Belloucif, 58, criticized the City of Toronto’s response to the emergency. “Horrible. If the majority of people that live here were white, there would be helicopters here. But because of the people who live here, black, Asian, Indian, African, that’s why they don’t care.”
He says he hasn’t been able to get help for his medical needs. “Nothing! I have a head injury. I have been suffering. I came from my doctor’s especially today and I’m going back to the hospital right now. Nobody’s taking care of me. Not at all. I have been living outside in the streets. I have everything, but everything is in there (his apartment).”
Several tenants such are also worried about pets that are being left inside the apartment building.
Mary Kent, who lives four floors below the fire, left behind her two cats. “They’re feeding them, I hope. I got updates yesterday and they fed them at 1 o’clock. So they are checking on them.” she said.
Kent, 70, wants to know more about what officials are doing to deal with the situation. “I know that there’s so much security and all that around, but everything is so frustrating. You don’t know when you can go up and get something like clothes, which frustrates me the most,” she said.
Residents are getting some compensation, they won’t be charged rent for the month of October. However, Kent says that people need their money now to buy necessities such as clothes.
Kent is luckier than most as she is staying with a friend who lives on the subway line. “I’m just going by what the media says. You just have to hope for the best.”