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Overbrook community rallies around Donald Street fire victims

The Overbrook community is banding together to support residents after two devastating high-rise fires last week.

Dozens of people are still displaced after a fire broke out in the early hours of May 2. That fire is being investigated as arson, after Ottawa police charged a suspect in connection with the fire earlier this week. Approximately 50 apartments were impacted, according to Ottawa Fire Services.

A second fire rocked the highrise at 1244 Donald Street on May 3. While that fire remains under investigation, there is no indication the fire was suspicious. One person was injured

Ottawa city councillor Tim Tierney organized an event Saturday to raise money for a woman and two children who were sent to hospital in critical condition during the May 2 fire and for those who are still without a home.

“It’s scary. Nobody wants to go through this,” said Coun. Tim Tierney.

“We want to assure people that all efforts are being put into this. It’s a private residence. It’s not a city facility, but we don’t care. We want to show that as a city, we’re coming together and helping get them back on with their life.”

The donations from Saturday’s event are still coming in, but Tierney says about $22,000 has been raised, including monetary donations, gift cards, and new toys.

Roughly a week after the fires, dozens are still unable to return home and many are living in motels with support from the Red Cross.

“I woke up when the fire happened under my bed and around my feet. The heat was the reason I woke up,” said Fatima Othman, who is still displaced from the second fire.

“I tried to get some stuff from the apartment, but all of it was damaged. Especially in my room.”

The donations are going directly to the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre, which is allocating the funds to the victims alongside Tierney’s office.

“A lot of kids are not bringing in lunches right now. They are in hotels or in other units, where maybe they don’t have a lot of extra,” said Sandra Copeland, a teacher in the area.

“I hope these kids and their families get back into these units as quickly as possible and that the support stays.”

42-year-old Saeed Mohamed of Ottawa faces a number of arson charges as well as three counts of attempted murder in connection to the May 2 fire.

More fundraisers are being organized for the victims in the coming weeks.

“There are ongoing fundraisers at Gloucester High School,” said Scott Fawcett, who is a teacher at the school. “We’re looking for monetary donations or non-perishable foods in our main office.”

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