The blaze destroyed a three-storey building that housed Isaac's Way restaurant and an attached rooming house early Sunday.
Nancy Murphy, the minister for Brunswick Street Baptist Church, said her congregation partnered with parishioners at Christ Central Church to help the 26 people left homeless. "We took it to our congregations … we put out the call, and it was overwhelming, the response we received," she said.
Churchgoers donated clothes, toiletries and other items. As it was Thanksgiving weekend, many parishioners went home, got their own turkeys and trimmings, and brought them back to the church.
"Then we put on a full turkey dinner, with ham as well," Murphy said.
Trius donated a bus to transport the fire victims from their temporary hotel to the impromptu feast.
"When they walked into our gymnasium and saw rows and rows of clothes lined up — just to see their eyes wide and overwhelmed by the generosity … they were very grateful. It was an awesome sight." she said.
She said her own cousins were amongst those who lost everything in the fire. "It definitely hit close to home. It was quite a shock," she said. "It was a miracle that they all got out safe."
Murphy said anyone who wants to help the fire victims can contact the Brunswick Street Baptist Church office.
Red Cross providing shelter
Carmen Burns of the Canadian Red Cross said volunteers were on the scene before the fire was out. "The building had smoke pouring from it and there were still visible flames," he said.
He said the residents left behind ID, medication and warm clothing. "They escaped with basically just what they had on their backs. Some of them just had flip-flops on," he said. "It's just a complete shock to them."
The Red Cross provided food and shelter overnight and is now working to replace the basic necessities. Burns said the Red Cross can take care of accommodation for 72 hours until other agencies step in.
"It's a major loss to have 28 rooms gone in a matter of minutes," he said.
No one was injured in the fire. The cause is being investigated.