British Columbia

B.C. wildfires: What you can do to help

With thousands of people forced from their homes, the Canadian Red Cross says British Columbians need to step up and help their neighbours.

Make a financial donation or contact your local evacuee reception centre, Red Cross says

Remmi Billy, 1, rests on her dad Kris Billy's shoulder at an evacuation centre in Kamloops on Sunday. They were told to leave their home in Hat Creek due to a wildfire burning near Cache Creek. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

In just over a week, more than 16,000 British Columbians have been forced out of their homes by wildfires.

Many didn't have time to pack so much as an overnight bag. Some said they watched their houses burn in the rear view mirror. 

In all, more than 128,000 hectares of land has been scorched since May.

Here's what you can do to help.

Make a financial donation

The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations through the British Columbia Fires Appeal. You can text FIRES to 45678 to donate $10 to the fund.

The money will go towards providing financial assistance, cots, blankets, and family reunification services. Going forward, money will also be put towards helping people get back into their communities once it's safe to return.

Kimberley Nemrava, the agency's vice president for B.C. and Yukon, said financial donations are the best way people can contribute to a volatile situation.

"Donations of goods are much harder to manage and much harder to move around," she said.

"As anyone who has ever run a garage sale can appreciate, just the logistics of trying to sort the goods ... it's just overwhelming."

Those who want to do something tangible, Nemrava said, could hold a small fundraiser with family and friends.

"What we encourage people to do is maybe hold an event and then maybe donate the proceeds to organizations like the Red Cross, or a bonafide agency they know and trust."

Gordon Davis, manager for emergency support services with the City of Kamloops, echoed Nemrava's call for cash. 

  "We really appreciate people's generosity, but we can't accept material things like clothing and toys," he said. "We have no space to store it."

'We lost everything' says B.C. wildfire evacuee

6 years ago
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B.C. Premier Christy Clark speaks with a woman from Ashcroft First Nation Reserve whose home was destroyed by wildfires

Several other organizations are partnering with the province to provide aid:

Call your local evacuee registration centre

Many groups have popped up on social media, calling on others to pitch in with supplies to deliver to B.C. 

Those eager to contribute goods should contact their local emergency resource centre and ask them to specify what they need, she said. For example, some may need more volunteers while others might need to replenish water supplies.

In Kamloops, Davis added, they're "more than well off" when it comes to donations for pets. What they really need is for volunteers to foster homes for animals, because pets aren't allowed in group lodging areas.

The Prince George Horse Society has taken in a dozen horses from Williams Lake over the weekend. Its president said they'll also continue to take any other animals in need of shelter.

The Prince George Horse Society is housing horses and any other animals displaced by wildfire. (Andrew Kurjata/CBC)

Nemrava also noted that British Columbians affected by the fires will need support long after the last flames have been contained.

"For these people ... it's completely turning their world upside down," she said. "We just want them to know they're not alone."

Click here for more tips from the provincial government on how to donate carefully.

Evacuees can register with Red Cross by going to, or by calling 1-800-863-6582.

Those with immediate needs such as food, or shelter should register in person at a reception centre in their region.

People can make financial donations to the Red Cross by calling 1 800-418-1111 or by visiting this page.

You can also text FIRES to 45678 to donate $10 to the Canadian Red Cross BC Fires Appeal.

With files from Justin McElroy