fire toronto

Toronto community rallies to help families affected by devastating fire

In the wake of a massive fire that decimated a house, damaged two others and tragically killed four people in Toronto late last week, neighbours are banding together to raise money and support the families affected who are now facing incalculable loss.

The blaze broke out at 95 Gainsborough Road — which is near Coxwell and Gerrard East in the Upper Beaches/Greenwood-Coxwell area — in the wee hours of Friday morning amid subzero winter temperatures and an extreme cold weather alert.

Toronto Fire Services arrived at the two-storey detached house shortly before 5 a.m. to find a three-alarm inferno, which has now been deemed one of the worst in the city in decades due to the multiple lives lost.

Of the six residents who were home at the time, two were rescued and taken to hospital, one stable and one in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

Homeowner Jana Jansons and her six-year-old grandson, Kai, along with close family friends Amanda Freimanis and Matthew Zdybal, have been identified as those who died on the scene.

Kai's mother, Arija Jansons, is one of the two survivors currently in hospital, and the main one for whom the local community has crowdfunded tens of thousands of dollars for.

"In a fire you lose everything," a gofundme for Arija, started over the weekend by her cousin, reads.

"After losing a child, material possessions seem so small and insignificant but she's going to need to start from scratch and if we can help her lift a fragment of that insurmountable burden, please do what you can."

Thus far, nearly 1,000 donors have contributed a total of more than $65,000 and counting. A second fundraiser organized for the same cause by a close friend has raised close to an additional $30,000 at the time of publication.

And yet another crowdfunding campaign, which has garnered over $35,000, aims to help all those who were impacted by the blaze and the devastating loss of life.

According to recent updates, Arija has been taken off a ventilator in the ICU and is now breathing on her own, though with extensive lung damage.

"The expanding ripples of kindness, compassion, and generosity shown by this community have simply been astounding. I am speechless and my heart expands in such gratitude for each and every one of you who has taken the time to donate or spread the word for Arija," her cousin wrote in an update on Sunday.

"She is going to have a long and dark road to recovery ahead of her but each and every one of you will be a spark that helps light her way with your thoughts, prayers and support. Thank you all."

The Office of the Fire Marshal is now investigating the incident, the cause of which is still unconfirmed.

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