On Dec. 13, 2016, a fire completely destroyed the home of Carla and David Collin and their daughter Melissa, who moved to Burns Lake from Alberta last fall.
“I got out in my pyjamas, my shoes and my jacket,” described Carla. “I was actually the first person to awake because I wake up very early and that was very fortunate for us [that day].”
“The whole place was full of smoke when I woke up,” she continued. “I started yelling and waking everyone up.”
“We lost our cat, but we’re the luckiest people you know… the three of us are alive.”
Although the family lost almost of all their belongings, they were still able to recover some photographs that remained intact because they were inside two metal cases.
Since the community heard about their story, residents and local companies -including Babine Forest Products and Pinnacle Pellet – have stepped up to give them a hand. An account was set up for the family at the Bulkley-Valley Credit Union; and Home Hardware – where Carla currently works – has been collecting donation items.
In just over a month, Burns Lake residents raised over $7000 to help the family rebuild their life.
The money donated was enough to help the family purchase a used trailer home so that they can move back to the property east of Burns Lake that they purchased last fall. Carla said that although their new trailer home is slightly smaller than the previous one, it is about 20 years newer.
In addition to the cash donations, the community has also been donating furniture items such as couches, tables and chairs, as well as dozens of clothing items.
“So many people have come to offer us hope,” she said. “It’s been absolutely insane. It makes me feel like the luckiest person in the world.”
According to Carla, the donations are not the only kind of support she’s been receiving from Burns Lake residents.
“People have been giving me cards, hugs… I’m a very shy person, but people will walk up to me on the street and hug me,” she said. “It makes me cry very much.”
Carla said she doesn’t think she would’ve received this amount of support in any other community, especially considering that the family is fairly new to the community.
“You can’t even say enough nice things about this community,” said Carla. “I’d like to spend the whole year hugging everyone on the sidewalk.”
“I have no intentions of ever leaving,” she added.
Carla and her family have been staying with relatives in Burns Lake and they expect to move back to their property by the end of January.