The District of Houston has denied a request to host animals displaced by wildfires at Four Seasons Park.
“Unfortunately, because of the proximity of the Nadina Wildfire, emergency operations staff made the decision to deny the request and refer the request to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako,” explained Gerald Pinchbeck, Houston’s Chief Administrative Officer.
The park is located west of Houston, at the far end of Mountainview Drive.
The Nadina Lake Fire, located approximately 40 km south of Houston, had burned 85,428 hectares as of Thursday.
The request was made by local resident Deanna Bell, who has been raising money to support animals affected by wildfires in the region, as well as arranging their relocation.
Bell says that while she understood the district’s reasoning and has already found other alternatives to host the animals, she was initially surprised by their decision.
“It didn’t even cross my mind that this would be an issue because of the outpouring [of support] from Houston locals and other communities,” she told Houston Today. We’re even hosting animals from Telegraph Creek in the area.”
So far, between Bell handling the larger animals and Jason Jubinville from P & B Feeds in Burns Lake, who is handling the smaller ones, they’ve relocated over 1,200 animals.
Bell has found farmers in the Houston area willing to offer their land to host some of these animals.
She has also created a Facebook page called ‘Northwest forest fire support network,’ which is dedicated to helping families and livestock displaced by wildfires in B.C. find temporary space until they can return home or rebuild.
Help is coming in many forms through this Facebook page – from the transportation of livestock evacuating a wildfire area to finding them temporary homes, to organizing feed for these animals and raising funds to feed all this livestock.
People have flocked to this Facebook page to post photos of their corals, pastures and chicken coops to open them up for evacuated animals.
In addition, Bell has also set up a a Go Fund Me campaign called ‘Northwest forest fire support’ and a Bulkley Valley Credit Union under the same name.
As of last week, she had helped raised over $15,000.
“I’m actually overwhelmed with the donations from all people in all areas - from Saskatchewan to Chilliwack and northern farms – donating everything from food, clothing, water, toiletries, apples and seeds.”
However, Bell said she still needs money to buy hay.
“I have over $15,000 in donations, and I spent $10,000 of it on hay already… so I just need another $1,000 for another load,” she explained.
For more information on how to donate, contact Deanna Bell at 250-845-9595.
Other ways to help out
Sullivan Motor Products in Houston has been collecting donations to support wildfire evacuees. Donation items can be dropped off at the store.
Glacier Toyota in Smithers has also been collecting donations at their store.
Donations to support wildfire evacuees and front-line firefighters can also be dropped off at P & B Feeds in Burns Lake, and addressed to ‘The Postmen Burns Lake Outpost,’ a non-profit organization based out of Burns Lake. After hours drop-offs can be arranged by calling or texting The Postmen at 250-692-6683. E-transfer donations can also be arranged by contacting the Postmen by email at email@example.com.
In addition, the Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations for ongoing relief efforts and long-term recovery in B.C. The provincial government is currently matching these donations, which can be made online at http://www.redcross.ca/.