An apartment fire on Matheson Street has highlighted the need for more housing in the district, says the Kenora District Services Board.

The Sunset Area Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral service, the Kenora District Services Board and the Canadian Red Cross Kenora Branch are continuing to work to help 15 tenants find a safe place to stay, after their apartment building caught fire in Kenora earlier this week.

The KDSB says that the three organizations have been experiencing challenges in securing a temporary shelter for those who have been displaced, however they have met the need to provide food and temporary shelter. They say that work will continue with multiple agencies to find a permanent solution for the tenants.

The KDSB adds that the current situation highlights the need for more housing in Kenora. They say that without the development of more housing in the community, it will become increasingly difficult for vulnerable families and individuals to secure housing. The services board has plans to establish another 150 supportive housing units in the district this year, with 60 to 80 of those housing units being brand new builds. However, for every family that the services board places in a home, there are between 20 to 27 families added to the housing wait-list.

The fire was called in by passing police officers around 1:31 a.m. on April 20, which brought firefighters and ambulance to assist. No injuries were reported.

A commercial restoration crew was on the scene later that afternoon, as they boarded up the apartment block. Tenants watching from the parking lot weren't allowed back inside to collect any belongings.

Fire chief Todd Skene said it was unclear what the cause of the fire may have been. However, the fire chief was willing to say the cause of the fire wasn't considered suspicious. Skene went on to say the estimate of the damage would be about $400,000. That's about equal to a total loss, depending on what the insurer decides, the fire chief noted.

The building's owner, Kevin Queen, said his first concern was for the tenants, and he was doing what he could to help them get resettled.

For more information:
Fire on Matheson
More housing coming, Wall

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