The Bulkley Valley community has come through with several thousand dollars to help a Smithers man whose house burned down Jan. 12.
Komi Pelawelo and his 26-year-old son were not home that Saturday morning when a blaze broke out in the bungalow on Slack Road. Firefighters responded at 9:30 a.m. and fought the flames for seven hours, but were not able to save anything.
“I lost everything, so it’s time to restart again,” Pelawelo said.
He is currently housesitting for a friend, but that is as far as his plans have taken him so far.
“I don’t know what I’m going to be doing, I don’t have any plan yet,” he said.
Lucy Gagnon, a long-time friend of Pelawelo, who said he has become part of her family over the years, started a Gofundme campaign to help him get back on his feet.
As of Jan. 23, nearly $4,000 of a $15,000 goal had been raised.
“I’m very happy,” Gagnon said. “We aimed a little high because, of course, he’s dealing with contents and he was under-insured on contents.”
Pelawelo is grateful for the donations.
“I appreciate every little bit of help and thank you for the community,” he said. “We’ll see how things work out and take it from there. Life is like that; this happened for a reason and you have to adjust to it.”
Smithers fire chief Keith Stecko said his department was unable to determine the cause of the fire and the investigation is now in the hands of the insurance company.
An investigator at the scene declined to comment on his findings, except to say it is not being treated as suspicious.
Gagnon said the Gofundme campaign will continue until Friday, Jan. 25.