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Cawston man homeless after fire

Life has been a struggle for Kelly Walker, since the mobile home he was renting in Cawston burned in a fire the week before Christmas.

Walker, 53, spends his days on the chilly streets of Penticton and his nights at an emergency shelter.

"It's nice to be alive," he said, as he sipped a hot drink at a downtown coffee shop. "But I wish I wasn't stuck in this situation."

Walker, who is on disability after a car accident, rented the mobile home on Beecroft Avenue for six or seven years and worked as a handyman around the property.

On the night of the fire, he says, he was caring for his landlord's pit bulls. It was a heater, used to warm the dogs' outdoor cage, that started the blaze, he claims.

"It overheated or something blew, and it started the fire," he said.

He was able to get the dogs away from the fire safely, but was burned when he tried to rescue his cat, Pugsley.

He was unable to save the animal, and its whereabouts remain unknown.

Initially, he stayed at a Penticton hotel before moving to Compass House, an emergency shelter which provides him with food and a place to sleep at night.

Walker admits he would be on the streets full-time without the shelter, but would prefer to have his own space at a hotel, until his situation is sorted out.

He was also initially contacted by a social worker after the fire, but has been unable to reach her during the holidays.

The social worker, Kelly Brennan, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The front of the mobile home and an addition were fully involved when the Keremeos Fire Department arrived on scene the night of Dec. 19.

And according to fire chief Jordy Bosscha, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A man who identified himself as the landlord, the day after the fire, says he evicted Walker two months ago, but claims he was too soft hearted and let him come back to stay.

But Walker denies he was ever evicted.

Currently, he says, people can contact him at Compass House, if they have a place available for him to stay.

"I'm alive.  It's just difficult circumstances I've found myself in," he said. "And the hardest thing is it happened just before Christmas when anyone who could offer assistance is not available. It would just be nice to have a hotel room where I could have my own space."

Compass House is at 123 Nanaimo Avenue East in Penticton.


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