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October 27, 2017 4:42 pm

‘We’re Making the Best of it’ says Williams Lake Family Displaced by Wildfires

Monday, July 10, 2017 @ 4:30 PM

Paul Austin of Williams Lake with his sons Joshua and William. The Austin’s have been camped outside CNC since Saturday – photos 250News

Prince George, B.C. – At least two Cariboo families displaced by wildfires are doing their best to remain upbeat as wildfires rage on in their home communities.

Paul Austin, his wife, four children and numerous pets, have been camping inside the parking lot at the College of New Caledonia since Saturday night.

He says they weren’t evacuated but the smoky conditions forced them to leave.

“We toughed it out all day Friday. We had to shut the air conditioner off because it was sucking everything into the house,” says Austin. “Then one of my boys got sick and the other started getting nose bleeds so we left.”

Friends back home are telling him things are only getting worse. In fact, he says they could see the Fox Mountain fire from their living room window before they left – yet he remains philosophical about the whole situation.

“We’re making the best of it, there’s nothing we can do.”

Brenda Leonew of Lac La Hache

A trucker by trade, he says his biggest concern is getting back to work.

“If we’re here too long I’ll be looking for a job. I won’t have a choice. When you’ve got a big family like this and you’re living pay day to pay day, what do you do?”

Camped out beside the Austin’s is Brenda Leonew of Lac La Hache along with her two dogs. She too arrived Saturday night, leaving behind her husband – who’s fighting wildfires – not to mention her rented lake-side home.

“I was packed Friday night and I hummed and hawed Saturday before I decided to leave. It took me six hours to get here with the dogs. I stopped a few times but the highway was eerily quiet with no traffic headed south,” she says.

“But I’m okay, I keep myself together for these dogs though I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I’ve certainly had my moments like yesterday when at times I felt like I needed to throw-up.”

If the evacuation order continues much longer, she plans on heading further north to stay with family.

“If this camp gets really busy and we can’t go home for a week or two I have a sister and a nephew in Chetwynd. I’ll go up to there. Just another adventure.”


I took 2 families from the 100 mile house area out for lunch today it wasn’t a big thing but it meant a lot to the families as one of the women told me it was a small act of kindness that meant a lot to them.

The one thing the adults told me is they are appreciative of people but sending love or prayers is just words its not helping put out fires, getting them home or helping them with their kids. It meant more to them that I took them for a hot meal and gave them an ear.

If you want to help send money to the Red Cross and/or Lots of animals on their way here as well go to your local pet store and donate cat and dog food, kitty litter and such as it will be needed which I did as well today donated a bunch of cat food

I spent the day at CNC volunteering today. People are stressed out, but in decent spirits so far. They are quite appreciative of all the volunteers. And seeing so many people down there volunteering to do whatever they can is heartwarming. Keep up the good work, Prince George.

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