News / Calgary

Calgarians reaching out to B.C. wildfire evacuees

City residents in cabin country seeing effects of fires

These photos taken on Sunday Near Golden, B.C. show how quickly smoke can move into an area.

Courtesy Catherine Blouin

These photos taken on Sunday Near Golden, B.C. show how quickly smoke can move into an area.

As over 200 wildfires ravage across British Columbia, a group of Calgarians have been working around the clock to collect donations and help in any way they can.

Calgary Helps YYM and Now BC Facebook creator Jolene Airey says there have been over 1,000 volunteers doing everything they can to help those affected by the BC fires.

Airey says the group has been very organized and efficient in collecting donations, sorting them and delivering them to warehouses in Kamloops.

“It’s amazing to see the community coming together. We did something like this last year for the Fort McMurray fires and it was very well organized and this is on an even larger scale,” she says of the group’s efforts.

However, she admits it can be emotionally exhausting as their hearts go out to those who are affected by the fires.

“You have your moments – when somebody stops and says ‘How are you doing?' You don’t really think about how you are doing. A lot of the volunteers are working on very little sleep, very little family time. But you just do it and next time somebody will do it for you.”

Airey knows all too well how the kindness of strangers can help during such a difficult time. When she was a teenager, her family’s small-town home caught on fire.

“I remember sitting on a hay bale try to figure out how to put fire out when within minutes people came down the driveways to come help us – and they literally took us into their homes. That’s why we are doing it. Maybe some of us lost our homes or we just want to help the community but it doesn’t matter – we just have to do it.”

The group is collecting donations such as water, canned goods with pull tabs, toiletries, protein bars, soap and more. They encourage anyone who wants to help to visit the Facebook page for detailed information on how.

Meanwhile, the fires are getting a little close to home for Calgarian Catherine Blouin, who is currently at her cabin just south of Golden where she divides her time. On Sunday morning the skies were clear and by the afternoon, hazy skies took over the mountain views.

“We are really new the area so I’m not sure what to expect,” she says, adding there was a small grass fire near her house Sunday afternoon that knocked the power out.

While Golden isn’t currently under direct threat, the wildfire in Verdant Creek area of Kootenay National Park has grown since it was first detected on July 15, according to Parks Canada, who are currently managing the fire.

The area closure in Kootenay and Banff national parks remains in place until further notice and Parks Canada continues to monitor the area to ensure on-going public safety.

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