Residents of burned-out Merritt apartment looking into class-action lawsuit

By Chad Klassen
March 29, 2017 - 6:00pm Updated: March 30, 2017 - 10:36am

MERRITT, B.C. — Residents of a burned-out apartment complex in Merritt are weighing their options, including a class-action lawsuit to recoup some of their belongings, for what they call "negligence" from the owners.

Debbie Walter and a handful of other residents of the Kengard Manor have reached out to a law firm in Kelowna, which confirmed to CFJC Today that it has committed to looking into their grievance. The Merritt Fire Department hasn't yet to determine the cause of the fire — not able to enter the north side of the building that's been deemed structurally unsafe. But Walker and other residents are putting the blame on the owner.

"We just want anything. Anything is better than nothing. If we have to sue, we are going to sue," said Walter. "I'm going to look into it. If I can get a group of people on my side, and there's lots. I've already called Karen from [Columbia] Property Management and told her I'm going ahead. I said there's so much wrong here. Something good has to come back to us out of all this."

The fire, which happened on March 16, forced around 60 residents out of their homes. Only five of the 36 units were insured. Residents who have been staying in local motels have until Monday before finding their own place. In the meantime, Walter and others have been overwhelmed by the community support.

"We are so thankful and overwhelmed with the support we have received, that we continue to receive, and that is going to keep coming through funding, through cash, through a set of pots, a dish, a blanket, a chair, anything," noted Walter. "People are just so supportive, because I'm sure they would not want to be in our position."

The community is hosting a fundraising breakfast on Sunday morning at the Walk of Stars in Merritt.

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