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Evacuated realtor discusses impacts of wildfire in 150 Mile House area

It’s been a whirlwind two-and-a-half weeks for 150 Mile resident Linda Jorgensen and her family.
This is roughly half the ground fleet Mitch Jorgensen, a heavy duty mechanic of 150 Mile House, has been keeping running for roughly three weeks as they work to battle a wildfire in the area. (Mitch Jorgensen photo)

It’s been a whirlwind two-and-a-half weeks for 150 Mile House resident Linda Jorgensen and her family.

Linda, a realtor with Crosina Realty Ltd., was evacuated from her home on July 7, along with her husband, Eric. Her two sons, Tyler, 34, and Mitch, 36, also live in 150 Mile House and have since been battling the fire in the area with the 150 Mile House Fire Department.

Currently staying at the family’s cabin at Winkley Creek on Quesnel Lake, Linda said Mitch, a heavy duty mechanic, has been servicing all of the trucks working to battle the blaze, while Tyler has been on the front lines fighting the fire. Both of her sons were past members of the department for roughly 10 years and were recruited back when the fire erupted.

Their home, despite others lost in the 150 Mile House area, is still standing.

“I’m really concerned about our community and the people who may or may not lose their homes and how they fit in after this,” Linda said.

Linda’s first concern, she noted, is her family’s safety, as her sons are on the front lines of the emergency relief effort.

As a realtor, however, things have become challenging, to say the least, she said.

“I have clients with homes that are in the fire zone area,” she said. “You’ve got people who are supposed to be moving (to the area) and they may or may not have a house to move in to. And then you wonder if they have insurance.”

Generally, she said if a home buyer is approved for a mortgage they will be required to have some form of home owners insurance.

“It’s what I’ve always done,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years - having the insurance company send confirmation letters, but no one can get insurance right now. But, if it was lined up prior and you have a letter of commitment it will be interesting to see if they’ll honour it and I’ve got a feeling we may have trouble with that.”

That said, she’s concerned even if some of her clients do have said letters they don’t have them with them or, in the best case scenario, do have a digital copy through their e-mail.

“It’s been a practice of mine for 30 years to get a letter of commitment from the bank,” she said, but noted it’s a major concern for her in regards to her clients.

“I have one client with three little kids currently and they recently sold their house on the Island but the house they’re buying is right in the middle of this mess and I don’t know if it’s standing or not. I’m pretty sure it is, and I know for sure they did get a letter of commitment from insurance but if it isn’t where do they go and what happens from there?”

Linda and her family have lived in the community for almost 25 years and is concerned about what the landscape will look like upon everyone’s return.

“You think about your neighbours and your friends,” she said. “The beauty of the area is going to look different but, I guess on the positive side, you might see some changes and get nicer, newer homes. But, when you’re caught in the middle of it, it’s a disaster.”

Linda’s husband is a meat cutter who operates a home business. The family’s livestock, meanwhile, is being checked on, fed and watered by her two sons.

“We’re lucky we do have our children in the area, but then again it’s the worry of having them in the area,” she said.

“What will happen to our area?”

In terms of how the fires surrounding Williams Lake will affect the real estate market, Linda said she can only guess at this point.

“It will be interesting to see in terms of home prices,” she said. “We’ve had a really good market but, now, I have concerns. I think it’s going to be bad but I’m hopeful it will all work out OK.”

She added information has been hard to access in regards to damaged structures in the area.

“I know the Cariboo Regional District has said they’ll notify people who have lost their homes and make sure people are aware, but I have a fairly large Facebook following because of work and am getting all kinds of messages asking if our house is still standing, if people can feed our animals, things like that.

“I know the 150 Mile House Fire Department is bending over backwards to do that. We were running out of food locally, but now they’ve got some trucks in there - it was pretty grim for a bit - but I think things are getting better (for a return).”

Greg Sabatino

About the Author: Greg Sabatino

Greg Sabatino graduated from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 2008.
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