Princeton residents came together last week to support two families left homeless by separate fires.
However the need for assistance has not been extinguished.
A ranch house owned by Sol Allison – described as a significant historical building – burned in the early hours of last Tuesday.
The occupants of the house escaped unharmed, but the structure was damaged and most of the contents destroyed, according to Princeton Fire Chief John Larson.
“We did have to do some removal of parts of the roof but the building is 80 to 85 per cent intact.”
Explaining that fires are normally investigated by private insurance companies, Larson said he could not comment on the cause of the blaze.
“I have not been asked to go and investigate and to the best of my knowledge I don’t know if there’s insurance involved.”
Robin Irwin, a family friend who set up an online GoFundMe campaign for Sol Allison, described the fire and its aftermath as “a truly devastating event” that not only displaced a family of four, it destroyed years of Princeton’s heritage.
“I’m currently working on archival aspects, saving as much family history as possible,” said Irwin.
The Allison family founded Princeton, and the damaged homestead was its original residence, located just off Highway 5A near the Bridge of Dreams.
Allison lost “many lifetimes of family heirlooms, irreplaceable photographs and furnishings.”
Irwin confirmed the cause of the fire is undetermined.
“Funds are needed at this time to help with the impending costs to replace necessary belongings as they escaped only with the clothes on their backs.”
The GoFundMe campaign has a goal of $5,000 and so far $550 has been collected.
Ellen Truscott is living a similar story, after her home on Fenchurch Avenue burned January 2.
She escaped with her husband, a family friend and tenant, and six special needs dogs.
A GoFundMe campaign for the Truscott family has so far raised $2,125.
“Thank God my daughter did the GoFundMe page because that got me through the last week.” said Truscott “The people in this town, and their generosity, and the way everybody helped, it’s just amazing. We have really good people in town. People have helped and I don’t even know who some of them are.”
Truscott took great pride in the home she owned for nine years.
“I’ve been sitting down with a notebook and trying to put my mind into each room, trying to remember what was in there and it’s hard,” she said.
Truscott stood in the dark street, when the temperature was nearly -30, for five hours watching her home burn.
Emergency funds from the local victim’s assistance account covered the cost of a motel room and food for a few nights. Truscott used a significant portion of the money fundraised to secure another motel room for a month, this one with a kitchenette.
“All of a sudden it’s like camping without a tent. We’ve got a fridge and a stove, one pot and one frying pan and a few dishes.”
She said she hopes to move to a rented house in the near future, but is concerned with the lack of response from her insurance company.
“I was told I had more insurance than I would ever need,” she said. “The insurance people were supposed to get me money by the end of last week so I could rent a house, but they didn’t do that. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”
Truscott said she only knows the fire started in the garage.
According to Larson, an insurance investigator has visited the property but he has yet to see a report of the findings.
To donate to Princeton fire victims visit www.gofundme.com/mvc.php?route=category&term=Truscott%20Princeton%20BC