1 year later, families affected by Claresholm wildfire still recovering

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WATCH ABOVE: Today marks one year since a wildfire ripped through a southern Alberta community, destroying four homes and leaving many families to pick up the pieces. Jaclyn Kucey spoke with the organizer of a fundraising Facebook page and reconnected with one family who is on the road to recovery after losing everything – Mar 28, 2022

Monday marked one year since a wildfire ripped through a southern Alberta community, destroying homes and leaving families to pick up the pieces.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s a year already,” said Abram Friesen, a resident of Claresholm, Alta.

READ MORE: Claresholm father recounts futile attempt to save family home from wildfire

Sunday, March 28, 2021, was a typical windy day in southern Alberta when all of a sudden, chaos erupted.

A wildfire was reported by the Town of Claresholm at around 1:45 p.m.

Fire officials said winds travelled at 100 km/h, which caused the blaze to move rapidly, destroying four homes.

READ MORE: Alberta ready as wildfire season starts March 1

Friesen and his family had recently moved into their home six months earlier with plans to renovate.

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“We had nothing taken out of the house,” he said. “We lost everything.”

With the community’s help and support from their church, the family has built a new house and is now getting ready to landscape.

“We had to watch that we didn’t just break down and cry for all the help and the loving and kindness people showed toward us,” said Elizabeth Friesen, Abram’s wife.

“It was beyond what words could speak.”

Deedee Linn, also a Claresholm resident, created the Claresholm Disaster Fund Facebook page shortly after the wildfire to help families recover from the tragedy.

Linn said she was inspired to create the page after seeing family in Slave Lake recover after a wildfire in 2011.

So far, the funds raised have supported 15 families.

“I’m just glad the community rallied and something good came out of it and it’s not just a tragic story,” Linn said.

She continues to post updates on the people affected on the Facebook page.

“We are still taking donations to this day,” Linn said.

“Some people have their houses up and are starting to furnish them, and others are still fighting with insurance and still fighting to find the building materials they need.”

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Linn hopes that once families impacted by the fire are back on their feet, the Claresholm Disaster Fund will become a relief fund to help with everyday community needs in the Claresholm.

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