A pair of travellers from the United Kingdom are taking things “one day at a time” after all their possessions, including their passports, were destroyed in a fire on Tuesday.
“It’s sad but there’s no point in dwelling on it, as long as everyone’s alright and everything is replaceable,” said Jessica Choules.
Around 3:15 p.m. on Sept. 8, fire crews from Langford, Colwood and View Royal were called to Big O Tire West Shore, at 1705 Island Hwy. Inside the shop, employees were working on the couple’s van, which required them to remove the fuel tank in order to replace the fuel pump.
According to Big O Tire owner Don Swindell, some of the fuel spilled and ignited, causing the fire.
Choules and her partner Rob Pearce arrived in the province last October. They stayed in Revelstoke over the winter for the snowboarding season, with the plan of seeing B.C. and the Yukon after.
“[The van] was our home, literally everything you would have in a house, we had it,” said Choules.
In the hours after the fire, a GoFundMe was set up for the pair and as of Sept. 10 has already raised over $13,000. Choules said she can’t believe the outpouring of support.
“It’s been so overwhelming, but so amazing, the support that we’ve had – and especially being so far away from home on the other side of the world – but the community has been amazing and made us feel like we’re a part of it and we’re not alone,” she said.
Since the couple lost their home, they’ve been staying with a family they met in the parking lot on Tuesday during the fire. Choules is hopeful the pair will be able to finish their “Canadian dream” soon.
Currently, the van is still in the mechanic shop and while Choules knows almost everything in the vehicle will be destroyed she’s holding onto hope that she can salvage some of her photos.
“My partner, he works in the fire department back in the U.K. and obviously they deal with car accidents and dash cams and things like that so he said they can salvage things from the SD card,” she said. “So I want to get my hands on that to see if anything is salvageable but we know everything else is going to be damaged or water damaged, smoke damaged, burned or melted – but everything’s replaceable.”
A Big O Tire employee was injured in the blaze and transported to hospital for third-degree burns on his shin. Both Swindell and Choules are grateful no one else was hurt.
On Wednesday morning, View Royal Fire Rescue inspected the shop and told Swindell the integrity of the building was in good shape. According to Swindell, the heat from the fire rose and vented through the roof, which left most of the equipment on the ground “amazingly intact.”
To make a donation to the GoFundMe visit bit.ly/2FupALR.