Family in Edgewood refusing to evacuate from Michaud Creek fire

Frantic to save family farm

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.

The call went out to help and people responded.

Almost $8,000 has been raised since a GoFundMe campaign was launched Wednesday to help a Kootenay family save their farm and some 500 ostriches.

The goal of the campaign was $10,000 with the money going to care for the ostriches and other animals that have been dropped off at the Edgewood farm as people flee the Michaud Creek fire.

ORIGINAL 11: 20 a.m.

A farm family is frantically preparing for the worst after refusing to evacuate from a fire near Edgewood.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Michaud Creek fire was burning out of control at 2,670 hectares in size and the Regional District of Central Kootenay had issued an evacuation order for Edgewood and Needles.

But not everyone is heeding the order to leave.

Karen and Erik Espersen are refusing to leave their property, which has close to 500 ostriches on it. Numerous other animals, such as horses, have also been dropped off at the farm says daughter Katie Pasitney, who is currently at the property.

“We are trying to do our best to keep our grounds wet right now, gather resources and find machinery to create a barricade around the animals because that is probably where we are going to end up when the fire comes in," said an emotional Pasitney.

The farm is in desperate need of animal feed, and Pasitney says a man unknown to them is trying to organize a heli-drop of feed.

“Our main concern right now is resources and machinery. There are a lot of people that stayed behind, but there is a lot of people leaving today,” she said Thursday morning.

There are also concerns about the 2,300-hectare Winnifred Creek fire near Cherryville, which has closed Highway 6 to all but evacuees.

“We are surrounded by fire, but we are doing our best to stay safe and make it to the end of this. We are just here to make sure the animals stay alive. The houses can go, the items can go, but we just want to make sure all these animals survive,” said Pasitney.

The Espersens are not alone in refusing to leave.

“There are so many ranchers here who are just trying to save their animals,” said Pasitney. “They are waiting until they see fire, and then they are going to leave. It's a scary situation.”

A GoFundMe page has been started for the Espersens, to help purchase supplies and hire local heavy equipment to build a fire barrier around the farm.

A second GoFundMe has also been launched to help the family.

The money will also be used to pay for fuel to keep water pumps going and “keep all these animals wet.”

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