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Squamish residents quickly organize to bring help to Lytton evacuees

'It's doing good for other people, and that's kind of what we do in Squamish'

In response to the fire that devastated the town of Lytton on Wednesday, Squamish residents mobilized quickly to organize donation runs to Lillooet.

Many of the evacuated residents of Lytton are being housed in Lillooet.

Even though she'd never organized anything like it before, one such local, Katie Coombs, was motivated by the news to get moving. She posted on the Sea to Sky Road Conditions Facebook page early Wednesday morning, and things progressed quickly from there.

"On the news last night, there was this one guy who didn't even get a chance to put a T-shirt on, and he had to leave. Those people have lost so much and so quickly, I'm sure a lot of them are in shock right now," said Coombs. "If it was me and I had nothing, it would just mean a lot for people to donate. They have such a long road ahead of them, so whatever we can do to bring them a little comfort and love is helpful. It's doing good for other people, and that's kind of what we do in Squamish."

In just a short amount of time, Coombs organized a truck and full-size box trailer at a drop-off point at Howe Secondary School, and was able to fill half of it in an hour and a half.

Nichole Boultbee donated the truck and trailer and drove the donations to Lillooet Wednesday afternoon.

Around 20 people showed up with donations of supplies such as bedding, car seats, strollers, air mattresses, kid's items and pet food.

"I thought we should organize something and get it there as soon as we possibly can, that's why I started it, at 1:30 in the morning. I decided to do it, instead of waiting for someone to take initiative."

In Brackendale, Tanya Sinnes took time away from moving house to quickly organize a donation drive. With another home and some family in Lillooet, she has a personal connection to the area, and she and her friend Kathy Wolfe decided to make a trip to Mount Currie with donations of supplies from her friends and neighbours.   "This is what it is to be Canadian," she said.

She has also offered space at her property for Lytton residents to park, camp, whatever they might need.

"It felt very necessary to do. I watched my own house burn down when I was ten, so the devastation of a fire is easy for me to relate to. These are the same people who were interviewed a few days ago about how hot it was. Now they've lost their homes, in a blink of an eye."

Sorting through a pile of bathroom and kitchen supplies on the bed of her truck, Sinnes pointed out that with the overwhelming amount of donations that can come with an effort such as this, it is helpful if donators can pre-sort items into family or individual-sized care packages, to save sorting time on the other end.

Currently, Lillooet volunteers aren't taking any more donations, but if they find that they do need more, Coombs says there will be another drop-off point organized that will be posted on the Sea to Sky Road Conditions Facebook page.

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