Smoke damage from Monday morning fire destroys all stock at North End social enterprise

By | May 14, 2020

A fire at the North End Women’s Centre has destroyed everything they had ready to sell at their Up Shoppe thrift store that benefits women in need.

Staff arrived Monday morning and spotted a woman who had started a fire close to the building, said Kristi Beaune, the centre’s director of development and engagement. 

The woman said she was just trying to stay warm, Beaune said. 

Within seconds, the fire had spread to the side and back corner of the building and quickly got out of control, she said. 

Police tape surrounds the back corner of the building, where the fire broke out. (Tyson Koschik/CBC )

Firefighters arrived shortly after and put out the fire in a few minutes.

The damage to the building wasn’t extensive, but the smoke went everywhere, and damaged all of the Up Shoppe’s merchandise. 

“This is a bit of a devastation, I have to say. We were slated to begin our gradual reopening plans just after the long weekend,” Beaune said. 

“Now things are on hold until we can get everything assessed.”

The Up Shoppe is a social enterprise run by the centre that employs women in the community for up to 34 hours a week to help them pay off their debts. 

Though they haven’t been open since March due to the pandemic, the shop has been doing emergency clothing referrals, Beaune said.

“Now we won’t even have that to do,” she said. 

“That’s going to be a tough one for the community.” 

A woman was arrested in connection with the fire Monday morning. 

She has been charged with arson, disregard for human life, possession of incendiary material and two counts of failure to comply with conditions of a release order. 

Beaune said the Up Shoppe isn’t taking clothing donations at this time due to COVID-19 but they do have an online fundraiser set up, which can be found through their Facebook page.

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