Support pours in for mother following deadly Sicamous fire

People rally to help, fundraisers include auction, bar/restaurant challenge.

Support is coming from near and far following a fire Sunday night at a mobile home in Sicamous that claimed the life of three Sicamous residents.

Daniel Vollans, 28, and his two sons, Devlin, 4, and Lealen, 3, perished in the fire.

Since then, support has been pouring in for Kara Wagner, Vollans’ 25-year-old spouse and the mother of the two boys.

Within hours of the tragedy, longtime friends Brianna LaRoy and Nikki Stelmak were busy organizing a benefit auction to be held at 6 p.m. at the Sicamous Legion Friday, Jan. 20. LaRoy says people are responding generously to calls for help.

“It’s going amazingly well. I’m getting calls from Revelstoke, Kelowna, Vancouver. It’s unreal – everyone has been amazing.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the Jan. 20 event in Sicamous. For those who would rather make a cash donation, bank accounts have been set up in Wagner’s name at all three branches of the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union, any TD Bank, or go to the Support Kara Wagner Facebook page and go to the “fundrazr” tab. Any business or private donor wishing to contribute items for the auction may also do so on the Facebook page, which is being carefully monitored. Items can also be dropped off in Salmon Arm at the Garage Furniture Company.

Tamryn Koebel of The Burner Restaurant and Lounge in Malakwa came up with a creative idea to raise funds that she’s hoping will spread far and wide. She’s started a Bar/Restaurant Challenge, challenging other food and beverage outlets to see who can raise the most donations for Kara Wagner. Staff invite their patrons to donate, by adding a donation to their bill, or by donating at either the till at the liquor store or the restaurant.

“We started last night,” she said Wednesday. “The first table we had through, just about everybody donated 20 dollars. They were from out-of-province.”

She said donations can be as little as $2 – everything helps.

“It’s an easy sell – I wish I could sell burgers this easily. Everybody wants to help Kara.”

All the money raised will be deposited in one of the trust accounts set up at the three credit union locations.

“Moose Mulligans has accepted the challenge – we’re hoping other restaurants will come on board and we’ll have a good race.”

Sicamous firefighters responded to the fire on Green Road South about 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1 to find the home fully engulfed.

The boys’ mother was working the late shift at the local Tim Hortons at the time of the fire.

Neighbour Trish Munro lives two doors down from the burned-out home. She says at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, she smelled something burning and went out to investigate.

Neither seeing nor smelling anything unusual, she went back inside her home, coming out a moment later and seeing neighbours standing at the end of her driveway.

“We could see smoke pouring out of the trailer and it seemed like within seconds it just blew up and was on fire,” Munro says, noting the wind had picked up a bit, driving the flames toward nearby trees.

The BC Fire Commissioner’s Office and the B.C. Coroners Service are continuing their investigation into the cause of the deadly fire.

Sicamous Fire Chief Brett Ogino said Wednesday that firefighters believe the mobile home was equipped with working smoke detectors – some hard-wired and some portable ones less than six months old. He said the home had three exits and two were completely blocked by fire.

The damage was so extreme, it will be difficult to determine a cause, he said.

“The worst part is not being able to provide definitive answers. I know how fire investigation goes, and it’s very difficult.”

It’s not known when the fire investigators will have completed their reports.

Sicmous RCMP Sgt. Carl Vinet said foul play has been ruled out.

“We’re satisfied foul play is not a matter of concern.”

A memorial service is set for this Sunday, Jan. 8 at 10 a.m. at Bowers Funeral Chapel in Salmon Arm. Tea will follow at the Royal Canadian Legion in Sicamous, upstairs. 2012-01-05