For the McMillans, their’s was a cataclysmic loss made bearable by the outpouring of community support.
Brittany McMillan, her husband Paul and their three children Paul, Marley and Jonah, lost their Coldstream home to a fire Feb. 4.
“A month ago, our family experienced the devastating loss of our family home and almost all of our belongings,” Brittany said. “The morning of Feb. 4 is one we would hope to never experience again. But, what happened afterward has made an even greater impact than the loss will ever have.”
The Coldstream Fire Department, assisted by Lavington crews, was called to the house in the 11600-block of Kalamalka Road shortly before 7 a.m. Feb. 4. One parent had left the house, while the other and all three children were inside when the fire ignited in the rear of the home. Everyone made it out safely, including the family cats.
“When we arrived, flames had already breached through the roof,” said Coldstream Fire Chief Dave Sturgeon at the time of the fire. “We weren’t sending crews in, it would be too dangerous with the roof collapsing so we did what we could with what we had.
“The temperature and topography of the house created challenges, built on the side of the hill there. With the cold and the water from the fire hose, and obviously ice created challenges for us but we overcame it and got the fire out.”
Despite firefighter’s efforts and quick response, the home was a total loss.
However, Brittany said her family was able to pull through thanks to the tremendous support from the Okanagan community. People reached out to the family with donations and compassion.
“You immediately stepped up. You showed us so much love, compassion, and generosity. You let us live in your homes. You donated clothing and toys to our two-, six- and eight-year-olds. You made our family meals. You raised money so we can start to rebuild our lives. You sent beautiful cards, notes of encouragement, donated gift cards. You texted us to make sure we were doing okay. You gave us a hug. You helped us sort through donations and some salvaged boxes of burnt belongings. You connected with us to offer rentals that might work. You gave and gave and gave,” Brittany said.
“Each of these moments left us in awe – just the pure outpouring of love that our family has experienced – just so unexpected. We want to thank you so much. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your help. Thank you for the support.”
Beyond assistance from their family and friends, Brittany said they are thankful for the Coldstream Fire Department’s quick response and continued support, the Kidston Elementary and Coldstream Elementary communities and the Coldstream Christian Church.
Local businesses, including Combined Mechanical, Teach and Learn, Nature’s Fare, Bosley’s, Silver Star and Ski Dazzle, Andrew Sherets, Lincoln Lanes, The Training House, Image Studios, Little Plum Children’s Boutique, Kidston and Co., The Towne Theatre, The Room Collection, Soul Studio, and many others also pitched in for the McMillans.
“We are so grateful for all of you, for this amazing community we live in,” Brittany said. “You gave us so much hope. Thank you.”