Heiltusk Tribal Council Chief Marilyn Sletts told the Tribune Monday a temporary store was set up in the United Church in Bella Bella with essential like bread, milk, eggs, diapers and formula after the community’s only grocery store was destroyed by fire early Friday.
During the weekend B.C. Ferries transported goods to the community that were distributed to the most needy on Saturday and Sunday.
As of Saturday evening, the website established for people to help the community had received $3,000 in support.
“I also heard from Kitimat city council that they have collected 40 boxes of books for us because our library was also destroyed by the fire,” Slett said. “The band council from Kitamaat village has also offered to help.”
Leaders from the Heiltsuk Tribal Council are asking for help after the First Nations community of Bella Bella was devastated by a sudden fire that destroyed one of the most important buildings in their small coastal village Friday.
The commercial hub and community gathering place housed Bella Bella’s only grocery store, liquor store, post office, community library and cafe.
The fire broke out at approximately 3 a.m. and the building suffered extensive damage from smoke, fire and water, including the collapse of parts of the main floor into the offices and services located below, a press release from the tribal council noted Friday afternoon.
“We are so grateful that no one was hurt in the fire, but the loss of these services will be felt by our community for a very long time. Interim emergency services are already being organized to ensure our people have access to food and everything else they might need. We appreciate any support or help people are able to give as we try to salvage what we can and start to rebuild,” said Heiltsuk Chief Tribal Councillor Marilyn Slett in an issued statement:
The Heiltsuk Tribal Council is accepting monetary donations on behalf of the Bella Bella community via the website rebuildbellabella.tumblr.com.
Funds raised will support immediate assistance for families in need and will help initiate the process of rebuilding. Any assistance is welcome.