Iowa Red Cross Volunteers Head to Canada to Help with Wildfires

Wildfires in Canada.

IOWA — A group of Iowans from the Red Cross is headed to western Canada to help thousands of people who had to leave their homes behind due to devastating wildfires.

The British Columbia Wildfire Service reports this is its worst wildfire season on record. Currently over 2.2 million acres have burned, according to a news release from the Red Cross.

Stu Coulson, a Red Cross volunteer from Charles City, said the fires have been burning since July and are out of control.

At its peak earlier this summer, more than 45,000 people were displaced from their homes. Currently there are over 6,000 people still on evacuation order.

“Around the towns there are thousands of structures that are being burnt. We are providing relief for those folks in the form of payment for groceries, for gas, for the basic necessities. Similar to what Red Cross provides for people in Iowa when their house burns,” Coulson said.

Maurice Evans, a Red Cross volunteer from Sioux City, said he is in Prince George, British Columbia as a mass care volunteer.

“Most of the ones I’ve tried to help at this particular time is many wanting to return home. So we would get them something like a credit card with $300 worth to reload their card so that they can have food, because they’ve been out for a week, almost over two weeks,” Evans said

Richard and Carolyn Newkirk are headed up to Canada from Ankeny on Tuesday to serve on the Red Cross mental health team.

All volunteers will be in British Columbia for two or three weeks depending on how much help is needed.