A longtime, beloved Tatlayoko Valley family lost their home to fire in the early morning hours Sunday.
Les, 84, and Colleen Harris, 79, who moved to the Tatlayoko Valley in 1968 from Michigan to start the Circle X Ranch, awoke to an electrical fire in their home at roughly 4 a.m. Dec. 1.
“Everybody’s alright,” said one of their 16 grandchildren, Katrina Beauchamp, who grew up in Williams Lake and the Tatlayoko Valley but now lives in Nelson.
“Everyone was up and dressed and my grandma was able to grab my grandpa’s medication and get him out of there, and the dogs, but nothing is left. The house was built in the 60s or 70s and had two fireplaces — one on each end — and one of the fireplaces wasn’t working so they had electric heaters going and I guess one was faulty and took the wall.”
Les and Colleen have been married for 65 years and, with their six children, 16 grandchildren and five great grandchildren having called the Harris home a pivotal, family landmark for the past 51 years, the family has now lost many cherished keepsakes and memories inside its walls due to the fire.
“They moved out here with their six kids and their little station wagon and setup a ranch. We all had many visits there as kids and they’re in shock,” Beauchamp said.
Beauchamp has setup a GoFundMe for her grandparents, and added a list of needed supplies and items is still being worked on.
“Les and Colleen have been the backbone of the community … salt of the Earth people,” one of the GoFundMe comments reads as, already, upwards of $4,000 of a $50,000 goal has been raised.
Les and Colleen are now staying with their daughter, Connie Bracewell — owner of the Homathko River Inn — who penned a thank you letter to the community in the early hours after the fire.
Thank you to everyone. Wow, what a community we have. My parents are going to be staying with us for the season. So what dad will need will be clothes.
Dad needs a lift chair. I was going to look into The Brick to see what they have.
They are in terrible shock, of course.
Dad wants pictures of his parents replaced.
Mom being an only child, never meeting her mom, has no one to get a hold of. So that will take some time to locate someone who can help me with locating pics of her family.
Their dogs are doing well.
They love the phone calls today.
Thank you from them and from Rudy and I and our families.
The GoFundMe page can be reached at this link.