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Samaritan’s sift through wildfire ashes in Shuswap

Group helping residents start the long road to recovery
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Specially outfitted volunteers sift through the ashes of a burned Kelowna home. Similar ash-sifting will soon be taking place further north in the Shuswap region. (Frank King - Samaritan’s Purse Canada)

Shuswap residents aren’t alone in the long road to recovery following the devastation of wildfires.

Samaritan’s Purse is helping residents who were forced to flee for their lives from catastrophic wildfires that ravaged the region this summer.

At the request of the region’s emergency operations center, the Christian disaster relief organization is sending staff and a convoy of disaster relief vehicles and equipment to clean up damaged properties and search for anything that survived the flames.

Almost 180 homes were damaged or destroyed by the wildfires. At one point, more than 10,000 residents were evacuated from Scotch Creek and the Little Shuswap First Nation.

The Samaritan’s Purse convoy, which left its Calgary headquarters today, includes one of the large Disaster Relief Unit tractor trailers, which are specially equipped with safety and clean-up equipment, plus an office to coordinate volunteers and accept requests for help.

Homeowners needing help with their home or property can call 1-833-738-7743. Anyone who wants to volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse should visit SamaritansPurse.ca. Donations are also needed and can be given online or by calling 1-800-663-6500.

The convoy will be stationed at Shuswap Lake Provincial Park near Scotch Creek. The partner church is North Shuswap Christian Fellowship in Scotch Creek.

“The loss from forest fires across British Columbia has been staggering,” said Keith Waara, Samaritan’s Purse’s acting director of Canadian disaster relief. “The needs in the Shuswap region are immense, and we will do all we can to help residents start their long road to recovery.”

In addition to Shuswap, Samaritan’s Purse has a convoy of staff and vehicles in West Kelowna, where similar wildfire relief work is underway for residents who lost everything to wildfires.

In recent years, Samaritan’s Purse has helped victims of a wide variety of Canadian and international natural disasters including Hurricane Fiona in Prince Edward Island in 2022, a massive 2021 hailstorm in Calgary; 2018 flooding in Grand Forks B.C. and St. John, NB; 2017 flooding in Vernon and wildfires in Ashcroft and Williams Lake.; flooding in New Brunswick in 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2008; the catastrophic 2016 wildfire in Fort McMurray, AB; and flooding in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, southern Alberta, and Nova Scotia.

Samaritan’s Purse sister organization, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada, is also in the Shuswap, working alongside by providing crisis-trained volunteer chaplains to comfort and pray with volunteers, first responders, and people impacted by disaster.

READ MORE: Columbia-Shuswap officials call for review of B.C.’s wildfire response

READ MORE: Fire destroys home on Bastian Mountain in Shuswap


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

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