Bouncing Back From Life After The Fire

It’s funny how one moment you can be enjoying your life, and the next, you find yourself trapped in a world of utter pain and chaos wondering how on earth you got there. That is what life has been like for our family over the past few months.

It’s also the reason, I stopped blogging for a while.

I needed a break, to take care of my family and make sure they were all right. Because everything happened quickly. It was like one minute we were smiling and happy, and the next one bad thing after another came crashing down on us.

It started with the death of our friend and neighbor. His roommate found him after he’d suffered a heart attack, and she was beyond devastated. We all were.

I miss him terribly. His death created many nights of horrible anxiety for me, as I don’t deal with death very well.

Then Came The Fire

fire on countess street destroys apartment complex

It happened on the night of March 6th, around ten o’clock at night. My husband and I were sitting on the sofa watching a movie when we heard our son’s voice shouting. We live in the building directly across from him, facing one another. We opened the sundeck door, and he came running faster than I have ever seen him.

“The building is on fire. Call 911,” he shouted before I watched him race back into the apartment after bringing his dog and cat over to us. I thought he was joking. Until I looked up and saw the roof of his building ablaze!

The fire spread quickly.

My son went floor by floor, banging on doors to tell people to get out. Most people didn’t even hear the fire alarm sounding, and many were already asleep, as his building is a host to many seniors.

firemen on balcony countess street fire

I put on my shoes and ran into the apartment building. I was terrified my son was going to get burned. The smoke was too much for me and I had to leave. My heart pounding, I ended up screaming for him, until he came around the corner with the rest of his stuff he’d gathered from his apartment he shared with his girlfriend, who had just gotten home from work.

We stood and watched in horror as the building just burned. Our neighbors all standing outside in the snow. Some even barefoot. Both hubby and I gave away shoes that night to help some seniors whose feet were freezing.

We were also one of the only apartments allowed to stay inside where several neighbors came to get out of the cold, and we opened up our washroom for all those who needed to use it.

Over 40 people became homeless that night, many without renters insurance, like my son. He lost almost everything. Clothing. Furniture. All his kitchen stuff. Even his bed, due to water and smoke damage.

A bus came to take everyone to a hotel for the next week while arrangements were made to pay all the tenants out. Each one got their one month’s worth of rent and a big “FUCK YOU!” as they were allowed just a few hours to come and pack up what was salvageable and find themselves another home.

It was bloody awful!

abbotsford fire countess street
Cst Hryhorczuk deployed the Abbotsford Police Remotely Piloted Aircraft System commonly referred to as a drone. The high-resolution camera was able to obtain photos of the fire damage to Cedargreen Apartments

I realize you don’t know but here in the Fraser Valley, our rental situation is at an all-time crisis. A two-bedroom apartment starts at $1200 per month for 700 sqft and goes up to $2000. There is no affordable housing. And most places are full with no vacancies in the near future.

Many people from the fire had been living in their apartments for over 10 years and paying very low rent. Now they were finding themselves paying double, even triple just to have a home. It wasn’t fair!

But life isn’t fair — as my mother would say.

My son and his girlfriend managed to find a nice place to live and start over again. Many people from our complex thanked me for raising such a strong, caring young man. They told me that if it wasn’t for my son, they wouldn’t even be here because they had no idea the building was burning.

Jake is only 20 years old. He’s a good kid.

His father and I are very proud of him.

countess street apartment complex after fire

Now here we are a month later under construction. My son is living in his new place, and I’m happy for him but it was almost as if he was stolen from me overnight. I’m empty nesting BIG TIME!!!

I miss seeing him every day.

I’ve also been suffering from severe anxiety since the fire. So has my youngest son Trace. In fact, once the metal cages went up and the restoration for the building began, Trace’s mood and attitude began to change. I had no idea he was feeling so badly inside, missing his brother and now living like prisoners in our home.

We moved here almost two and half years ago, and in that time we were under construction for just over 15 months as they had to completely gut the grounds and tore off our balconies and windows and did re-framing.

Now it’s happening again.

It’s going to be a long time before this place is fixed. We can’t find anywhere else to live right now but are looking. It’s been really tough. But after everything that’s happened here, we need a fresh start.

For now, we are just bouncing back from life and all it throws at us. It’s really all we can do. Just deal with shit and move on. Life isn’t simple. It’s messy and complicated. And sometimes it’s downright just — mean.

But I appreciate you guys being here and for all the well-wishes you guys sent to me on Facebook. If it wasn’t for you, I don’t know what I would do.

Note: We lost one of our residents the night of the fire. She succumbed to her injuries and our hearts go out to her friends and family. We are sorry for your loss.

( Photos by Just Jodi / Jordyn Slofstra-Calibrigo )


  1. Margaret Imecs December 18, 2019 at 7:30 am

    Jodi my heart goes out to you. It’s so sad that you had to go through terrible times. But you have to be strong, you’re not alone, good things will come sooner or later, you’ll see.

    1. Jodi Shaw - Site Author December 18, 2019 at 7:44 am

      Thank you Margaret, this past year has been bad but we try to stay positive.

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