Strangers become close friends for Monte Lake family amid wildfire destruction | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Strangers become close friends for Monte Lake family amid wildfire destruction

What is left of Greg and Cassandra Murray's home and property after it was destroyed by the White Rock Lake wildfire, August 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Cassandra Murray
August 13, 2021 - 6:00 AM

A Monte Lake couple whose family home was destroyed in the White Rock Lake wildfire is receiving support from people in Castlegar, B.C., one of which they have never met. They say they are overwhelmed by their generosity and kindness and now feel they have known them for years.

Cassandra Murray says she and her husband Greg lost everything in the White Rock Lake wildfire, their home, their tools and their property.

“We had no notice, we thought it was still across the lake,” Murray recalled of the incident. “We were packing up to leave and looked up to see flames and hear the terrifying sounds of fire.”

They are currently taking refuge at the Emergency Operations Center in Salmon Arm, along with their dog.

“We lost absolutely everything, including Greg’s tools,” Murray said. “He is a commercial floor layer. We don’t have a vehicle and we didn’t have fire insurance. We also have lost our cat and are worried about him. We are shocked and don’t know how we will rebuild our lives.”

Susan Batting and her son Sheldon live in Castlegar, B.C. She says she has never met the Monte Lake couple, but they have formed a relationship over the past couple of years through Batting’s son, and since the wildfire, she feels closer to them.

After experiencing a house fire in the past, Batting says she understands the devastation and wanted to help.

“The reason I know them is because my son, Sheldon, worked for Greg and they became really good friends,” Batting said. “When the fire went through and took everything they had, Sheldon asked me to help them. I now talk to Cassandra on the phone and she calls me ‘mom’. I have set up a gofundme for them and Sheldon drove out there to support them.”

Murray says the amount of support and kindness she has received from the Battings is unbelievable.

“These are the most kind-hearted people we have ever met,” she said. “Sheldon came all the way from Castlegar to help us with whatever we need, and she has bent over backwards for us. I feel I have known them both for years.”

The Battings have been able to find a donated sixty foot trailer for the Murrays, who plan to move it to Falkland as soon as they are able, they said.

“I just want kindness for others,” Batting said. “We are going home to our family and bed and cup of coffee. None of these people are going home to this stuff. People never think about what is going to happen tomorrow, none of us know what will happen tomorrow. I intend to persevere until these people get back on their feet.”

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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