When Javier Monsalve returned to his two-bedroom suite at 6010 Old East Rd. last Friday, he hoped to find an insurance representative there.
Instead, the doors and windows of the well-known Latin dance instructor’s home were boarded up, and he was told he’d wait close to a week before he could get inside.
No rush, says Monsalve, as he anticipates nearly all of his belongings are beyond salvage from the fire and water damage that ripped through the home on Feb. 2.
“When I first got (to the fire) it was a moment of either choosing chaos in my mind or staying tranquil in calm waters, and I chose the bright side over the darkness,” he said.
Monsalve, sister Laura and her four-year-old daughter Ali, who live with Javier at the residence part time, were away when the daytime fire broke out.
“I have me health, my legs and hands, my essence. This is a sign for a new beginning, the closing of one door, the opening of a new door,” he said.
Supporters of the siblings set up a crowdfunding site last week, which had raised more than the $5,000 target by Friday (Feb. 13). This week CFAX Santa’s Anonymous presented Ali with a new set of toys to replace those she lost in the fire.
“(Ali) doesn’t fully understand what the fire means for us, we’re just telling her it’s time to stay and grandma’s for a while.”
Monsalve credits the great response to the dancing community he’s been apart of since he moved to Greater Victoria 12 years ago.
As the founder of the Sabor Asi Dance Company, Monsalve said the Latin dancing community around it has been a source of healing now more than ever.
“I don’t have receipts, I don’t know how much I’ve lost in terms of value,” Monsalve said. “One thing is I didn’t have (tenancy) insurance, so this is a valuable lesson for me. Maybe it can be a wake-up call for others.”
The house has four rental units in total, and three (including Monsalve’s) suffered significant water and smoke damage, said a Saanich Fire department spokesperson.
“Dancing is a portal for renewal and revitalizing and a door to happiness, we’re not just saying these things but leading by example, and will continue to,” Monsalve said.
For now, he has taken up residence at a friend’s house who is away for an extended vacation. It gives him time to accumulate the furnishings he’ll need when he finds his own home once again.
The Feb. 2 fire wasn’t without it’s casualties.
An off-duty Saanich firefighter noticed the building was on fire and alerted the upstairs tenant, and managed to escort one person from the house during the fire but the landlords lost two cats, two dogs and a parrot to smoke inhalation.
“It’s sad. We’d always see the dogs walking, heard the parrot, and we always played with the animals when we were upstairs,” Monsalve said. “I’ve only been living in that space since October. I was planning on being there for a while.”