Our staff are coordinating with provincial officials to serve affected families and communities.
The government of British Columbia has declared a state of provincial emergency as over 300 wildfires rage across the hot, tinder-dry interior. Samaritan’s Purse has been invited to assist in a coordinated effort to respond to the impacts of the fires.Thousands of residents have fled and hundreds of homes have already been lost, including nearly every house in the town of Lytton.
“It’s heartbreaking to see how many people have lost their homes and livelihoods—and how many more are fearing the same thing as fires threaten their communities,” said Tammy Suitor, Samaritan’s Purse’s Canadian disaster relief manager.
Coordinating with officials
As the wildfires burn, we have staff at the emergency operations centre in Kamloops, coordinating with government officials to establish when and where we can best serve and help wildfire victims recover.
The situation is extremely dangerous. Most threatened areas remain closed, but our teams are preparing to go to those in greatest need when officials deem it safe.
Since 2011, Samaritan’s Purse has been putting donations to work helping people and communities affected by wildfires in Alberta and B.C. That includes:
• A massive 2016 blaze that destroyed more than 2,400 buildings (most of them homes) in Fort McMurray, AB
• 2017 fires in the B.C. communities of Boston Flats and Williams Lake
• The 2018 Telegraph Creek B.C. fire, where we responded in partnership with the Tahltan First Nation
Partnering with churches
In each case, relief teams work with partner churches to come alongside homeowners and offer physical and spiritual aid in Jesus’ Name. Specially equipped volunteers, under the guidance of trained team leaders, sift through rubble and ash to find families’ heirlooms and valued keepsakes that survived the heat and flames.
“The sifting that’s happening here at our house is really amazing,” said Stella, a Fort McMurray resident affected by the 2016 wildfire. “I’m amazed at how detailed and how fine it is.”
Our volunteers also visit undamaged homes that have long been without electricity in order to remove fridges and freezers full of dangerous rotting food.
Your prayers and support will make a difference for families who have lost almost everything.
Please pray for the people of Lytton and other threatened towns and First Nations communities in the B.C. interior. And please consider how you can partner with Samaritan’s Purse to be the hands and feet of Jesus to families trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of these devastating fires. “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4, ESV).
Note: This story was originally published July 7 and updates were made on July 22.