Youths' home gutted by blaze

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Sat, 25 Jul 1998 11:58:08 -0700


July 25, 1998=20

 Youths' home gutted by blaze=20

Squeegee kids say neighbours wouldn't call 911=20

By Josh Brown=20
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

A group of squeegee kids say they had trouble getting neighbours to call
for help after a fire broke out in their rooming house.=20

Amy Collins and her boyfriend Jason Churchill woke up to a crackling sound
and found their second floor balcony in flames about 5 a.m. yesterday.=20

The pair rallied the other eight tenants - six of whom were not squeegee
kids - and started banging on neighbours' doors for help.=20

``I ran to three different houses and tried to get people to call 911 but
it took like 10 minutes to even get someone to call,'' said Collins, 17.
``The only reason I can think of is that people don't really like us, for
whatever reasons.''=20

But one neighbour dismissed the youths' complaints, saying most people were
probably just sleeping.=20

``I don't think anyone was trying to avoid them,'' said Cynthia Browghton,
who lives down the street. ``In any case, there's a pay phone two blocks
down. Maybe they could have used some of that coin they make squeegeeing.''=
=20

Everyone managed to escape the blaze at 721 Markham St., near Bloor and
Bathurst Sts., but the house was gutted. The four squeegee kids living
there said they may have to sleep on the street tonight.=20

Damage was estimated at $330,500 and the cause was electrical, fire
officials said.=20

The semi-detached houses on either side belonged to retired couples and
sustained extensive damage from the fire. City officials said all three
homes will probably have to be demolished.=20

Squeegee kids Laura Genova and her boyfriend Jerry managed to salvage a
radio, some music cassettes, a handful of clothes and their squeegees.
Jerry's cat Roy is still missing.=20

``It really sucks,'' said Genova, 20, as she sat on the street with her cat
Booger. ``Now we have to find a new place to live.''=20

Neighbourhood reaction was mixed, as some blamed the squeegee kids for the
fire while others felt sorry for them.=20

``They were completely ignored here,'' said neighbour Kiloran Distin, who
called 911. ``Their house was completely on fire and everything they had
was going up in smoke and no one was even paying attention to them.''=20

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