B.C. fires impact Langley

From local aid to tourism, there are local issues thanks to the wildfires.

Langley residents are both helping out and preparing for the impacts of the fires in the B.C. Interior.

On Saturday, a local man and his friends headed to Princeton with a convoy of trucks loaded with donated supplies for fire evacuees there.

Scott Ervin asked around and recruited a few friends and family into the plan. He suddenly had four trucks and a trailer.

“Everybody’s offered to help,” Ervin said Friday, as his crew collected donations outside the Otter Co-op.

Stuart Watson is one helper, a friend of Ervin who saw his intial posting on Facebook.

The movement grew fast, he said. He first contacted Scott on Tuesday. Another friend made list cards showing what goods are in need in Princeton for the evacuees.

Many of the group have friends or relatives in the affected areas.

“I have family that lives in 150 Mile and Williams Lake,” said Leah Nadeau.

She’d felt helpless since the fires started.

“This is a kind of way to give back,” she said.

On Sunday, Ervin said the trip was “absolutely great, and a trip all of us will never forget.”

“We’re still in contact with the people in Princeton and we’re gonna help them with any other needs they need,” he said via Facebook.

Another fundraiser will see local golfers tee off on Aug. 1, starting at 1 p.m. at the Redwoods Golf Course.

The Drive for Relief is a shotgun tournament organized by the golf course, with tickets going for $125 for a single golfer or $500 for a foursome. The event includes a dinner and auction.

To sign up, call 604-882-5130.

While numerous locals are offering donations and help, there are other impacts slowly trickling down to the local economy.

Annecdotal evidence suggests some people who have planned vacations in the Interior are sticking closer to home.

“We’ve been really busy, but I don’t know if that’s been the reason,” said Lee Murphy of Vista D’Oro, a winery and farm in South Langley.

Chaberton Winery manager Brian Ensor said the same – they’re booked solid, so it’s hard to tell if there are more people looking for local wine.

The biggest problem for Chaberton, Ensor said, is shipping their product to the Interior. One wine agent has her warehouse in Williams Lake, which has been evacuated.

It’s too early to say for certain what impact the fires will have on Langley tourism, said Mun Bagri, the acting executive director at Tourism Langley.

Official efforts to help are also ongoing. Langley RCMP officers and Langley Township firefighters are being rotated in and out of the fire zones in the Interior.

The Township firefighters headed north on July 11, with a truck and a pickup. The crew of four firefighters and a chief officer were to be sent in and out as needed, with the truck staying in the Williams Lake area.

Hundreds of other firefighters from around B.C., other provinces, and even overseas, are also in the Interior and Cariboo regions fighting the fires.

Langley Township has not been asked to help evacuees, but at a Monday council meeting, administrator Mark Bakken said municipal staff are looking into what the Township can do if asked.

The Township has not been asked to provide any help to Surrey, either. Cloverdale is one of the Lower Mainland evacuation locations, along with Chilliwack.