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