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Devastated DTES residents start fundraiser, mourn beloved church following fire

The fundraiser will go towards those who lost their belongings in the fire.
street church DTES fire
Following a fire in Downtown Eastside (DTES) that broke out July 6, the community started a fundraiser to help those impacted by the fire while also mourning the loss of Street Church.

Despite the tragic loss, hope and support within the DTES community remain. 

A devastating fire broke out in the Downtown Eastside on July 6 around 9:30 p.m. in a two-storey building at 165 East Hastings and quickly spread to the adjoining and beloved Street Church.

Though the two buildings are destroyed, fire officials say they were able to keep the blaze from spreading to the also adjacent Maple Hotel.

Many members of the DTES community including artists, residents and businesses have lost personal and invaluable belongings, but the community has stepped up to offer a helping hand.

A GoFundMe fundraiser was started the day after the fire for those impacted by the tragedy. It raised over seven thousand dollars in only two days, which is nearly halfway to its $15,000 goal.

The money raised will go towards those who lost their belongings in the fire, according to the fundraiser. This includes the art community and many others.

"One artist lost his entire body of work that was going to be used for an upcoming show, as well as the supplies and other pieces, another community member lost their custom-built furniture as well as a few thousand in power tools and materials," writes fundraiser organizer, Sean Laidlaw. 

"Many of the folks who used these spaces did not have insurance to cover their belongings in their spaces."

The money donated will be split and distributed among those impacted by the fire.

While the community is supporting each other, many are also mourning a treasured community church.

Street Church, which was destroyed in the fire, is a Foursquare church that had been helping people who are experiencing homelessness in the DTES for many years, serving hot meals, a place of comfort and rest or fellowship and teaching. 

Guy Felicella, a harm reduction and recovery advocate who was once homeless, shared his sorrow at the news. 

"I remember when I was homeless I used to access the Street Church that used this location for food, clothing and support," he wrote on Twitter. "Sad to see that it's burned down."

Others also expressed low spirits at the loss of the church.