Prince George woman opens her farm to evacuees and their animals
Williams Lake fire evacuee Tracie Allery and her cat Solaire at a farm owned by Shelagh Stadel outside Prince George Saturday, July 15, 2017. (Jason Payne/ PNG)
PRINCE GEORGE – On Saturday afternoon, there are 31 horses, six sheep, one pig, 10 dogs and four cats at Shelagh Stadel’s acreage just east of this city.
There are also 17 people living in trailers or rooms in Stadel’s house.
One young woman, Tracie Allery, is staying in the well-appointed sleeping quarters of Stadel’s horse trailer with her cat Solaire.
They are evacuees from Williams Lake and area. Some are family and friends, but some complete strangers.
Stadel has opened up her home because people are in need of sanctuary, for themselves and their animals, from wildfires raging in the Cariboo.
The people at her place are among more than 7,000 people who are making Prince George their home temporarily, with more expected as remaining Williams Lake residents fled the city Saturday evening after an evacuation order was issued.
Al Wilson and his wife Lee Ann Crosina, and their seven horses, are here.
They have known Stadel for years, and live just south of Williams Lake in Dog Creek, near Stadel’s parents Gordon and Karel Stadel, who are also here.
Wilson was working in a small corral on Saturday with one of his horses that was evacuated. He and others have also been pitching in, helping repair, for example, the roof on a small tack room.
Everyone has taken to called Stadel’s acreage “the village.”
Wilson has lived in the Williams Lake area for nearly 50 years. There was fire on all sides, he said. “I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude.”
Stadel says she connected with people through the horse community, which she is a part of. “Word of mouth,” she says.
She’s more interested in sharing the things others are doing to help, including her neighbour Travis Shaw who recently helped to deliver food to people in the Williams Lake area.
Stadel also mentions Chris Brown from Vernon who organized a caravan to deliver items such as food, toiletries, clothes, blankets and pillows to evacuees.
Allery, who was having a hard time breathing in smoky Williams Lake, came here Tuesday, July 11.
Allery likes being around the animals as she also used to live in the country.
Says Allery: “She’s inspiring. She just opened up her place – even to total strangers.”