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Tenants displaced by downtown Sudbury fire receive support from the city

Tenants displaced from a fire in downtown Sudbury last week are still out of their homes and receiving help from the city.

Greater Sudbury firefighters are on the scene in downtown Sudbury on Wednesday afternoon battling a fire. Few details are available, but Sudbury police said on Twitter that they are on the scene of a fire above Oscar’s Grill on Durham Street. (Kent Guindon/CTV News)

Elizabeth Sariva and Calub Ylitalo have called the Coulson Apartments home since September, drawn to the space for its location, familial atmosphere and ample natural lighting.

Late afternoon on May 24, fire crews were called to a multi-residential building on Durham Street, where it's believed a fire broke out in the kitchen at Oscar's Grill on the main floor.

Sariva and Ylitalo were home at the time and heard the fire alarms go off.

They grabbed their pet parrot and went outside, believing it was a false alarm initially.

"We didn’t see any sign of fire or smoke or anything like that. So we actually went back into the building and saw lots of other people are coming down, so we thought maybe we should get out of here," Sariva told CTV News in an interview.

She said they saw thick smoke billowing out of Oscar's on the patio side and when they went around the other side, they saw more smoke on the Coulson side on Larch Street.

"I said 'we're definitely going to be allowed to go back in there,'" Ylitalo said.

He said his second thought was to get somewhere where the air was clean to protect their parrot.

They went to the YMCA, both panicked and shaken, and found help there, Ylitalo said.

On Durham Street, five fire stations attended the scene to knock out the blaze and no one was seriously injured.

Elizabeth Sariva and Calub Ylitalo and pet parrot escaped from last week's fire in downtown Sudbury that has left dozens of people and businesses displaced. June 2/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

As a result of the fire, 40 units and seven businesses were impacted.

The City of Greater Sudbury has a partnership with the Canadian Red Cross to offer support in times of crisis.

The Red Cross was offering support to tenants displaced by the fire by offering food, accommodations and clothing.

Gail Spencer, manager of housing, stability and homelessness for the city, said it's able to extend support on a case-by-case basis.

"Everybody needs something different when they're experiencing this type of emergency and we really try to help people to find their own solution so that they're not relying on city services to do this," Spencer said.

"But for some people, they do require continued support."

Many have been able to secure other options, or utilize tenant insurance, but she said that the city is currently helping 17 people.

For Sariva and Ylitalo, the city extended their hotel stay until June 6.

Elizabeth Sariva and Calub Ylitalo are staying in a hotel in downtown Sudbury paid for by the city after a fire displaced them and dozens of others last week. June 2/23 (Amanda Hicks/CTV Northern Ontario)

During the couple's interview with CTV News Friday morning, the city called Ylitalo asking if they needed anything.

"We've really appreciated all the help," he said.

Sariva and Ylitalo, who are now staying at a hotel downtown, said they initially had no clothes.

"We left the apartment with flip flops on our feet. I was in pajama pants, she was in sweat pants," Ylitalo said.

"We didn’t really have much at all."

The couple said the city and the Red Cross have been extremely helpful, offering them gift cards so that they could buy food and clothing.

Sariva and Ylitalo said they are fortunate to not have lost much and believe their apartment isn't severely damaged, however, they did not have tenant insurance.

Downtown Sudbury has also organized a GoFundMe for those impacted by the fire. Currently, it has raised more than $7,000 of its $10,000 goal.

Family and friends have also been supportive and the couples said they feel for other tenants who might not have that level of support.

"There were single mothers in there with two kids," Ylitalo said.

"We're really feeling for those people."

As for when tenants will be able to return, that date is unknown.

Deputy Chief Nathan Melin with Greater Sudbury Fire Services said the case has been turned over to the Ontario Fire Marshal (OFM) and the building owner.

"The responsibility of the building lays on the owner and their insurance company for remediation of the building to see how fast they can get their tenants back in," Melin said.

It could take months for the OFM to provide an update on the exact cause, but Melin said, in his opinion, he doesn't believe the fire to be suspicious. Top Stories

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