Properties evacuated due to the Keremeos Creek wildfire suddenly grew significantly on Thursday evening, prompting the Emergency Support Services Reception centre and many local businesses to jump into action.
The centre, located in Penticton at Princess Margaret Secondary at 120 Green Avenue West, was open yesterday until after midnight to receive a flood of new evacuees after residents of Olalla learned they would need to leave.
In total to date, the centre has provided help to 361 evacuees as of Friday morning.
Local residents and businesses have been showing support by donating gift cards for families impacted by the fire. In Apex and Olalla and some surrounding areas, more than 400 properties are under an evacuation order.
ESS coordinator Adam Goodwin said there have been "hundreds of small acts" of the community going above and beyond to assist.
"A hotel manager stayed until midnight to try to find/clean/move any additional hotel rooms at their hotel for evacuees; a business owner returned after closing time to support evacuees; an ESS team member worked closely with the health authority to have an evacuee get urgent health care services," he said in a news release issued Friday.
Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team volunteers stayed open until 11 p.m. Thursday, school district staff opened and closed schools at all hours of the day and night all week to keep the Reception Centre open, and a cafe donated coffee for all the ESS volunteers, as a few more examples.
Goodwin said any citizens willing to help out are welcome to drop off gift cards either at City Hall or the ESS centre during opening hours, or if they wish to go the route of donating money, the Red Cross is a good option.
For anyone on evacuation order needing ESS assistance, call 250-328-8749.