Kelowna bands together for survivors of fatal house fire

A total of $6285.27 between empty returns, cash donations raised for a Kelowna family

The tragic death of a Kelowna woman has prompted a compassionate community response.

Loree Dubuque died when her Springfield Road home went up in flames, March 13. Her two young sons and husband escaped with their lives and a hole in their family.

Dubuque’s two sons attend Springvalley Elementary and when students and their parents heard the story, they wanted to do something to ease their burden.

So they organized a fundraiser. That fundraiser far exceeded expectations.

“Words really can’t explain (how successful the bottle drive was),” said Megan Elmhurst, PAC president.

“Things took off before we had even started with a flow of vehicles … that flow did nothing but pick up and continue to be constant. We completely filled the whole sidewalk along the side of the school with bags, and a portion of the front of the school was littered in empties. The response was so huge, we had started to reach out on social media to find help sorting because we couldn’t handle it ourselves.”

Families and staff from the school, friends of friends, and even strangers lent a helping hand.

“Near the end of the first day we had to call it quits after eight hours and began hauling everything we had left into the school hallways. The hallway was packed.”

There was no way volunteers could have finished that night, so they carried on with the sorting the next day. A total of 15 hours sorting empties, with 80-plus volunteers that came and went during those two days.

After dozens of trips to the bottle depot they were able to raise a total of $6285.27 between empty returns, cash donations for her partner and their sons prompted the highest turn out the Dease Road Bottle Depot has ever had.

“We also had clothing donations, and gift cards handed in during the event.” said Elmhurst.

“I am so blown away by the community, especially our volunteers. Michael Van Gool had also stopped by during the afternoon and was blown away by how much was being dropped off. It was a really overwhelming weekend, and we weren’t sure we would ever finish sorting but it was so worth it. The family really deserves this.”

The fire that took Dubuque’s life was deemed accidental.

“RCMP fire investigators have now fully completed their examination of the scene,” said Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey of the Kelowna RCMP, in a press release.

“At this time, RCMP are classifying the fire as accidental. As investigational findings at that scene have led police to believe the tragic blaze to be electrical and non-criminal in nature.”

A GoFundMe page has also been set up to support the Van Gool family.

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