When Warren Carlson’s children stood outside watching their Logan Road house burn Saturday afternoon, the timing couldn’t have been worse.
Carlson’s wife was out grocery shopping and he was out working in his logging truck.
That left his daughter babysitting Carlson's two youngest sons.
“She did well,” he said about his daughter’s brave actions. “She got everybody out.”
The accidental fire that was started by a failed electrical heater was not the first to consume the Carlsons’ belongings.
“About 10 years ago my house burnt down,” he said. “In that one we lost absolutely everything, the whole house.”
That was on his mother’s property in Aldergrove, when the family had no insurance.
This time they are covered for their duplex unit structure, but not for the content inside.
And that’s where the Agassiz community has stepped up to help.
“I can’t imagine if those were my kids and they didn’t have anything,” said Angela Striker, one of the local residents who is collecting items for the Carlsons and the other two families affected by the blaze.
Striker and another local helper have been mobilizing the generosity of people who want to give to support those who are temporarily homeless because of the fire.
“Right now we’re looking for much more of the soft items right now,” Striker said. “We’re doing well for clothes, but sheets, blankets pillows towels and things like that are needed.”
A growing list on a whiteboard had names and items to be collected later but Agassiz All Storage donated a space, so larger items can now be collected.
There’s just enough space in the room for Striker and her cousin Sara Jarvis to kneel and sift through the clothes for keepers.
Jarvis owns the other side of the burned duplex and many of her family's soft belongs are now smoke infused as a result of the blaze.
“Things are going fine for us,” she said. “We've got a place to stay with my parents and lots of community support. People are baking things for my kids’ lunches, the church has reached out to us.”
Jarvis jokes that if you want to see community love, just have a fire. Her spirits are high despite her family’s recent troubles and she emphasizes how much Agassiz has helped, even on the day of the incident.
“Everyone came out from their houses with blankets for the kids,” she said. “None of us were wearing shoes or jackets and people came with a jacket and boots for me.”
She added the firefighters were “amazing” and that emergency social services were “so calm and understanding.”
“We need stuff for this week,” Jarvis said. “But beyond that I think our stuff will slowly come back from cleaning.”
And while they looked through the piles of clothing, they both set aside anything of the Carlson children’s sizes, recognizing their loss of personal belongs—both to the flames and lack of insurance.
“Agassiz is great, I couldn't believe it,” Carlson said. “They've been a lot of help.”
He added that he feels bad about inconveniencing his neighbours and that he is grateful everyone made it out unhurt.
Carlson’s family is still looking for a place to live temporarily while their house is rebuilt, and they are making do in a small RV in the meantime.
“A lot of people go through life without having one house fire,” he said. “My luck is either really good or it's really bad all the time. It's just the way it goes I guess.”
But he’s back on the road working to try to make ends meet and happy his children are out of the incident unscathed.
As for Jarvis’ children, she said they are handling it well, waking up at night a few times a bit scared.
“They're ok,” Jarvis said. “The little one keeps saying, 'Next time I want a sleepover with no fire, ok?'”
• Contact Crystal Scott or Angela Strik (sic) on Facebook to donate.
• Jimmy’s Pub is having a fundraiser dinner on Jan. 30 where the kitchen will serve a special menu and all proceeds will go to those affected by Saturday’s fire.
• A Gofundme page for the Carlsons called “Logan road families fire relief” was set up by Striker with their permission.