Many of the 200 people evacuated from Kenwick Place following an early morning fire Sunday are still trying to get their lives back on track.
Until the building at 180 George St. is declared safe for occupancy again the evacuees are being put up at temporary accommodation.
About 140 residents have been located to area hotels, Sarnia Police said, while others are staying with friends and relatives.
A reception and registration centre at Lambton College was set to close Monday evening.
Karen Hahn was one of 16 people taken to hospital after smoke filled the residential tower shortly after 1:30 a.m.
The 12th floor resident said she thought the fire alarm was a prank, something that has happened in the past.
“But when I went out in the hallway it was dark and smoky and I thought, ‘this is serious.’”
Like many of those who fled the building she left with little more than the clothes on her back. She groped her way along the hallway to the stairwell, opened the door and found it was dark and smoke-filled as well.
“All I could do was feel my way down,” she said.
She said she eventually encountered two older women in the stairwell with a flashlight, and made it outside safely.
Hahn’s hands and clothing were covered in soot and her lungs were sore from smoke inhalation.
A firefighter directed her to a waiting ambulance that took her to Bluewater Health, where she was given oxygen and provided several blood samples.
Two of the 16 people taken to hospital were admitted, and they were still there Monday, Sarnia Police said.
The cause of the fire, which began in the parking garage, is still under investigation.
Hahn said she is staying with her mother in Sarnia for now.
“At least I have a place to stay. What if I’d had a pet? What if I’d had asthma? What if I’d been disabled? It could have been worse.”
Many groups, individuals and agencies coordinated by the Sarnia Emergency Primary Control Group have sprung into action to help those affected.
Anyone who wishes to help can contact the following organizations, which can explain their specific and most immediate needs.
Salvation Army – 519-344-1142 or 519-337-3011
Humane Society – 519-344-7064, ext. “0”
Inn of the Good Shepherd – 519-334-1746
Victim Services – 519-344-8861, ext. 5238
Red Cross – 519-332-6381