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Sicamous community steps up to collect donations for wildfire evacuees

The Red Barn filled with food, gift cards and baby supplies on Sunday, Aug. 20
Volunteers Kelly Renolds, Brittany Vandergaag, Bruce Hunchak, Krista Hyde, Kienna Hyde, Kingston Hyde, Jessie Salm, Jesse Scrimbit, Chelsea Vange and Quinn Carson are joined by Sicamous mayor Colleen Anderson (centre) as they collect donations for North Shuswap evacuees at the Red Barn Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (Kim Siegrist-Hyde photo)

Efforts are underway in Sicamous to support people affected by wildfires in the Shuswap.

Residents of Lee Creek, Scotch Creek and Celista were forced to evacuate Friday, Aug. 18, when strong winds spread what is now referred to as the Bush Creek East wildfire, last estimated to be over 41,000 hectares, into the North Shuswap communities.

The following morning, Electoral area F director Jay Simpson was able to get into Scotch Creek and Lee Creek to survey the damage. From Squilax-Anglemont Road, he guessed about half the structures in the commercial area of Scotch Creek remained standing, but couldn’t comment on residential structures. As of Monday morning, no official word had been released on the extent of the damage.

Through the night and into the morning, the fire spread south through part of Squilax and across the water, prompting evacuation orders on Skwlāx te Secwepemcúl̓ecw land, Adams Lake Band land west of Chase, Sorrento, Turtle Valley and Skimikin, and evacuation alerts in Chase, Tappen, Notch Hill and other areas within the Thompson Nicola Regional District.

As soon as she heard the news of the mass evacuations in the North Shuswap, Sicamous resident Krista Hyde said she knew she needed to help.

She was able to coordinate with the Red Barn on Sunday, Aug. 20, and open the facility as a hub to collect donations to deliver to evacuees.

“It was amazing,” she said. “I was shocked. By the time we got there, people were already lined up to help.”

Word got around quickly and donations poured in nonstop until 3 p.m. when they had to close doors, said Hyde.

She said volunteers collected bottled water, Gatorade, granola bars, baby supplies and gift cards, as well as personal hygiene items that were then put together into individual kits.

Hyde and a team of drivers then delivered the supplies to people camping at the fairgrounds in Salmon Arm, as well as Canadian Tire, Walmart and Winners parking lots.

Aroy Maak also donated Thai food, and Hyde said each trailer or car she stopped at also got a hot meal.

The remaining gift cards and meals were left at the emergency centre at the 5th Avenue Seniors Activity Centre in Salmon Arm.