A deadly fire in East Sooke has turned a woman’s life upside down.
Long-time Sooke resident Sarah Richer was a tenant on Timberdoodle Road when a fire on March 30 tore through the workshop below her suite, claiming the life of Jeff Letain.
“I had about a minute to evacuate at 7 a.m.,” Richer said.
“It’s definitely been the most bewildering and traumatic experience I’ve lived through. Your home is your refuge, losing that has been very difficult, all of the memories of life you create with your home. You see it represented in film or fiction, it creates a picture in your mind, but it’s very difficult to live through it. I didn’t realize how much damage there is from the smoke.”
While she feels fortunate to have been able to escape, Richer, who works as an analyst for the B.C. government, could only manage to grab a few articles of clothing and her work computers.
“I had to return to work and start my new part-time job of house hunting because of the housing crisis in Sooke and on the Island in general,” she said. “It’s very expensive. I’ve had to put a lot on credit just to get the necessities and cover the unforeseen expenses that come with losing your home (while dealing with) the long slow negotiations with the insurance company.”
Richer has managed to find temporary housing in Victoria while she looks for something more suitable in Sooke, where she is well-known for her work with Literary Outreach and 10 years as a yoga instructor.
She also piloted a project with the Capital Regional District in the unincorporated areas in the Greater Sooke region that led to a number of recreational programs being offered, including aerobics and karate.
Her friend, Jocelyne Leszczynski has started a GoFundMe campaign for Richer.
“I met Sarah a few years ago as we were completing the master of professional communication program at Royal Roads,” Leszczynski said. “I had a chance to visit her in East Sooke a few times and I know how special that community is to her. She is a truly decent person and although she’ll always land on her feet, I know she would appreciate a bit of a lift and support right now as she navigates this tragedy. I hope this fundraiser let’s Sarah know that folks are wishing her well and giving her support.”
The fundraiser has raised close to $3,000 toward the goal of $5,000.
“I want to thank everyone for their thoughtfulness and generosity,” Richer said. “There’s no road map or guidebook for this situation, but the GoFundMe has been a huge help while I figure out the next steps, and I’m so grateful for their compassion. Reading the messages on GoFundMe has been really touching.”