A charity torched by firebugs is offering a $10,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of the punks who committed the double arson last weekend.
“We hope we’ll catch them,” said Ottawa Neighbourhood Services president Patricia Lemieux.
ONS has been helping financially-strapped residents for 80 years, and is using their insurance policy for the reward after an overnight fire was set along a back wall and dumpster on July 15 outside the building on City Centre Ave.
“The smell is still there,” said Lemieux.
While a final cost hasn’t been determined, Lemieux offers a “conservative estimate” of at least $65,000 in smoke and water damage to furniture and clothing donations.
“We’re trying to figure out how we can get (items) out and sift through it quickly,” Lemieux said.
The charity helps victims of fire, and the irony is not lost on Lemieux during this “difficult time.”
About two dozen volunteers have assisted with the ongoing cleanup.
Businesses have offered up mattresses and other furniture, but they can’t be stored.
With skyrocketing clean-up related operational costs post-fire, these offerings aren’t enough.
After decades of helping others, “now, we’re turning to the community for help,” she said.
ONS is asking for cash donations, fearing it may have to shut its doors for good.
“Any kind of financial help will certainly be appreciated,” said Lemieux.
“Even a dollar helps.”
Lemieux has penned a letter to Mayor Jim Watson, seeking special financial assistance.
“We’ve had to have a rental truck all week,” said Lemieux, adding they receive no funding from the city or province, yet field daily requests from more than 25 social service agencies.
“We’ve taken to the dump three (truck) loads of mattresses,” she said, adding washing machines and stoves were also tossed, and their dumpster was burned.
Luckily, most sofas, chairs, and tables have been salvaged.
ONS reopened Tuesday and in the past week, 27 requests for kitchen tables and chairs have come in, said Lemieux.
Storage bins and commercial laundry containers on wheels are needed.
To help ONS, call 613-728-3737 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations can be made to ONS’s fire assistance program at BMO Bank of Montreal (bank code 001; transit number 03566; account number 1998118).
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Ottawa police arson investigators at 613-236-1222 x 2199 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.