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New social gathering place open to community of Lytton

Rafting instructor, Andrew Fandrich (left) and staff working through a post-fire orientation session in Lytton, BC.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Andrew Fandrich
August 14, 2021 - 8:00 AM

A new community hub is emerging from the ashes of the Lytton Creek wildfire that destroyed the downtown gathering places that once tied the small community together.

Six kilometres northeast of Lytton, Kumsheen Rafting Resort has opened its grounds for the people of Lytton to relax and spend time. Onsite is a restaurant, pool and campsite. Resort owner Andrew Fandrich said he wants to make sure his community has a place to be together.

“The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive,” Fandrich said. “There are lots of locals showing up and meeting here. The entire community hub, the downtown village of Lytton, was destroyed. It is a tight-knit community where everyone waves at each other and knows everyone’s name. It is sad to see what happened to it. We are putting our effort into running this much needed hub.”

Fandrich said he is grateful his resort survived the fire and it didn’t take much to prepare it for opening on Aug. 7.

“Everything that survived the fire was already available for the community,” he said. “Mostly what was required was a lot of cleaning and debris removal. We have 50 employees who come out for the work season and were able to employ them to do the cleaning and repairs.”

Fandrich said the resort is open for locals to use the pool, hot tub, games and the grounds for free, and to enjoy themselves. He says the grounds have teepees, cabins, campsites, RV sites and games.

“We did lose a few rental units but the units remaining are ready to rent,” he said. “We are also offering a significant discount for rafting, which may not be top of mind for most right now, but it is an activity that makes people feel good, which is so important.”

Fandrich says his parents started the rafting business almost 50 years ago and he grew up working the business in Lytton every summer as he grew up. He says he bought a house in Lytton 15 years ago and became a full time resident.

“Unfortunately I lost my house to the fire,” he said. “My brother’s house was also destroyed, along with my sister’s café and the Chinese history museum my mother had. About two thirds of the town has been able to come home and it is good for everyone to be together and share stories. Everything feels so surreal.”

        READ MORE: Evacuations ordered northeast of Lytton as wildfire grows

Fandrich said he plans to keep the resort open throughout the coming winter to help the community.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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