Uncertain future for man and dog who were displaced by wildfire west of Vernon | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Uncertain future for man and dog who were displaced by wildfire west of Vernon

Richard Gazzara and his dog Alfie lost their home to the White Rock Lake wildfire on July 31
Image Credit: contributed
August 12, 2021 - 6:30 AM

Richard Gazzara and his dog Alfie have been living out of a tent at the O’Keefe Ranch in Vernon since they were displaced by the White Rock Lake wildfire on July 31.

The travel trailer and camper van they called home were destroyed when the flames reached their property along Whiteman Creek Road west of Vernon.

He's waiting until it's safe to return.

“I’ll just be going up there to see what’s left of the situation,” he said. “I had some other vehicles there – some for parts, some were broken down. Hopefully I can get them hauled away later on when the smoke settles, so to speak.”

Gazzara has been living at the same location for at least 12 years, and until he sees the damage, he hasn’t decided if he plans to return to the same site or not.

“I may end up moving back down with some friends I was living with before.”

His place was situated in a crevice, and when the time came to evacuate, the smoke was so thick Gazzara said he could barely see 20 feet in front of him. He was able to evacuate himself and Alfie in his “little Ford F-150,” which he still has at the ranch.

“It’s been not too bad here at O’Keefe Ranch,” he said, adding that he has an air mattress to sleep on. “Some other people are here from the fire too, and it is a little hot out here.”

He said Alfie is “doing pretty good out here,” but “I gotta keep him separate from other dogs and people, he was abused so he’s kind of a one-man dog. I couldn’t leave him with the SPCA because of that.”

Gazzara has been feeling disoriented since he became displaced, “so it’s kind of hard, my mind goes from one thought to another, they’re all over the place some days. Some days it’s a little more peaceful living.”

He said it’s a matter of accepting the situation.

A friend of Gazzara set up a Gofundme page to help him and his dog.

“Any donation would be so greatly appreciated to help get this very kind man back on his feet,” organizer Angela McNair said on the page.

Money raised will help Gazzara “acquire a used travel trailer – a place to call home again – and replace all of the items that he lost. Or the alternative option of someone graciously donating a used travel trailer for him, would be amazing.”

READ MORE: Fundraiser launched for retiree who lost home in White Rock Lake wildfire


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