July 14, 2017 8:59 pm

Call for volunteers and donations to help Princeton-area wildfire evacuees


The Princeton Emergency Support Services (ESS) reception centre is looking for volunteers with clerical experience to help evacuees fill out paperwork.

“This is a critical part of ensuring people displaced by fire are taken care of and have access to services,” said a release from the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.

Alisha Binkle is one of the hundreds of evacuees in the Princeton-area who’ve registered with emergency social services at the Riverside Community Centre where the ESS reception centre has been set up.

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She needs shelter, funding and food vouchers after fleeing her home with only moments to spare.

“It came so fast, we ran, we ran, we ran with cats under my arms, and two big dogs,” she said.

“Minutes, minutes that was it… It was a wall of fire, just a wall of fire just past our house, and it was close enough that the heat was burning the side of my face.”

ESS is also collecting donations, including non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products, bottled water and pet food.

Hay can be dropped off at the Princeton Exhibition Centre for evacuated animals.

Non-perishable food donations can also be dropped off at the Princeton Baptist Church where the food bank operates biweekly.

The food bank is open to evacuees from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 15.

“This food bank is open to anybody in the Princeton area, it’s not just the local people who come on a weekly type basis, this is for the evacuees,” said volunteer Gordon Stark.

Meanwhile, along Summerland Princeton Road, you’ll find Paul Patton who has set up a free drink stand for workers and volunteers.

“We tried to do what we thought that we could do within our power and we just set up a little station to offer ice cold drinks to anybody that comes by,” he said.

The community spirit is what’s keeping people going during these trying times.

“We’re staying strong, we’re Princeton strong!” said Binkle.

Firefighters are getting the upper hand on the Princeton-area wildfire which is now considered 35 per cent contained, but progress will be tested on Saturday with high winds in the forecast.

The wildfire remains at 3,000 hectares and is still 30 square kilometres in size.

Officials expect the evacuation orders, alerts and road closures in the Princeton-area to remain in place through the weekend.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the Princeton ESS is asked to call 250-295-0202 before coming in.

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