(Marianne Rumbal took this photo on Friday of the Ashcroft Reserve fire.)

SIMPSON: Canadians rally for wildfire victims

It’s encouraging to see the province – and nation – come together for the thousands affected

Fire crews are battling more than 215 wildfires – some thousands of hectares in size.

As of Monday, 14,000 people have been evacuated, according to Emergency Management B.C.

Twenty-nine new fires were started Sunday for a total of 218 fires burning as of Monday.

READ: B.C. wildfire season hits 599 fires

In the face of disaster, it’s encouraging to see the province – and nation – come together for the thousands of people affected. Help from other provinces and the federal government has begun to pour in for firefighters and evacuees.

The Canadian Press reported that about 300 firefighters and support staff from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick started to arrive Monday to help relieve the pressure on roughly 1,000 B.C. crew members battling the blazes.

The Canadian Armed Forces have also sent aircraft and personnel to support the emergency response.

Residents of Fort McMurray, Alta., who had to flee a massive wildfire last year, have also sprung into action by collecting donations of supplies, driving them to B.C. and offering support and advice on social media.

Four tonnes of supplies arrived from Fort McMurray including wrapped and sealed water, Gatorade and baby supplies. Volunteers were making sure the Kamloops food bank receives and distributes them, CP reported.

And in a similar vein, a Canada-wide social media network of donors and volunteers has truckloads of supplies headed for fire-stricken communities around the province.

Plus, all YMCAs are opening their doors to people impacted by the wildfires, so they can shower and clean up, rest in a safe space or take part in a drop-in program like basketball, fitness classes or swimming.

READ: YMCA opens door to evacuees

And WestJet is offering some relief to those needing to get out of the area quickly. According to Lauren Stewart, the airline put together a 25-per-cent-off promo code for those wishing to leave Kelowna, Penticton and Kamloops to any domestic location in Canada and the U.S.

Airbnb is also offering anyone affected or trying to help with the B.C. wildfires a place to stay. As part of their disaster response program, the company is waiving its service fees.

And while we may be far from the disaster unfolding, there are ways we can help.

The Canadian Red Cross has opened up its donations page at redcross.ca. Donations will help provide immediate relief in the way of cots, blankets, food, clothing and personal needs.

Beyond meeting immediate needs, donations may be used to help re-entry and go towards long term-recovery. You can also donate to the Red Cross while visiting BC Liquor Stores and Save-On Foods.

You can even donate with your phone. Simply text FIRES to 45678 to donate $10 to the Canadian Red Cross BC Fires Appeal.

It’s hard to imagine what our fellow British Columbians are going through right now. In the wink of an eye, many have lost everything. The least we could do is give a few bucks.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Now-Leader. He can be reached via email at beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com.

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