Claudelle Yochmans knows what it is like to be up close and personal with fire, which is why she’s the lead for The Postmen depot in Williams Lake that’s collecting supplies for firefighters and wildfire evacuees.
When the historic Lakeview Hotel caught on fire in Williams Lake back on March 6, 2005, Yochmans was working at the hotel at the time and jumped out of a third-floor window to escape the flames.
“I shattered both of my legs,” she told the Tribune Monday. “Ever since then I‘ve known the damage fire can do and I still remember the deaths in that fire.
This is Yochman’s second year volunteering with The Postmen.
The depot is located in a warehouse in the back alley behind Home Hardware on Mackenzie Avenue that store owner Scott Tucker is letting her use free of charge.
When the wildfires started to ramp up in the Burns Lake area earlier this summer, The Postmen heightened their efforts to collect supplies.
“The Postmen depot in Burns Lake is hurting for supplies,” she said. “They are overwhelmed.”
In the last few weeks, with wildfires and evacuations within the Cariboo region, the need for supplies has intensified locally, she said.
Pointing to a collection in one corner of the room of safety vests, hard hats, shovels and rakes, she said they were for firefighting crews from Ulkatcho (Anahim Lake) First Nation that are fighting fires.
“We just had a bunch of stuff go out to Horsefly,” she said.
There are evacuee packs made up that include toiletries, water and food, which aren’t large, but people can always come back for more, she added.
Every day there’s a list of items needed and on Monday afternoon it was pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, juice boxes, sugar and creamer packages, single coffee packages, tissues, Kraft dinner, canned beans and veggies.
Anyone wanting to make donations can visit the depot by accessing it at 250 South Sixth Avenue in the alley or by calling 778-412-1724 or 250-392-6146.
The Postmen started in 2016 in response to the Fort McMurray fires in Alberta.
From there the group expanded, first helping evacuees in Alberta and then in B.C. when the help was needed there.