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High school offers support to teenagers affected by bonfire tragedy

Counsellors on-site at Smithers Secondary for students struggling to cope with the bonfire explosion
Smithers Secondary School staff grapple with a tragic incident that left two students severely injured. (File photo)

Two Smithers teenagers are receiving medical treatment in Vancouver after a bonfire explosion at a New Year’s Eve party left them severely burned.

“It’s been a tough few days,” said Smithers Secondary School (SSS) principal Julie Krall. “This has been very difficult, these are kids I care about.”

Krall is working with staff to provide resources for the 30-40 people who witnessed the incident and any other students who are affected by the tragedy.

The school has spoken to many students who were at the party when the explosion occurred, to provide them with emotional aids and academic support.

“There were so many kids there that it will take me some time to phone everybody,” said Krall.

“I have been put in a position to have to compartmentalize a bit right now to just get through this in order to help the staff and to organize a plan for our school and for our students and for our families.”

SSS staff have outlined a response plan, which includes making students and their families aware of the counselling services available to them. The school has counsellors regularly employed on-site and has brought in additional counselling support for those struggling to cope.

“We have two school sites BVLC (Bulkley Valley Learning Centre) and Smithers Secondary School where we have brought in counsellors to deal with immediate needs of any students who are feeling upset or need assistance this morning,” said Krall.

One of the teenagers flown out was a Smithers Secondary School student, the other was a BVLC student.

More than $35,000 has been raised across two GoFundMe pages in support of the two teenagers. Updates on the pages say both parties are receiving dermatological treatments, such as a burn bath and skin grafting surgery.

“My priority right now is to make sure that my staff are in good shape so that they can deal with the kids in a calm, reassuring manner, and that our families are taken care of, and that our kids are feeling safe and taken care of,” said Krall.

There were four additional young people injured at the party, who were treated locally for minor burns. Smithers RCMP said none of the injuries were life-threatening, including the injuries sustained by the two teenagers seeking treatment in Vancouver.

READ MORE: New Year’s bonfire explosion sends two Smithers burn victims to Vancouver

About the Author: Morgan Powell, Local Journalism Initiative

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