A house fire near Sicamous drew an outpouring of support for the family who lost their home and prompted an investigation by the RCMP.
The Sicamous Fire Department was called to the residence in the Cambie-Solsqua area in the early-morning hours of Aug. 31. Fire chief Brett Ogino said the Malakwa and Swansea Point fire departments were called in to help but the house was a total loss.
The loss of the house is especially devastating for Samara Palmer and her family because it served both as their home and the location of Palmer’s home-based business, the Maradise day spa, hair salon and fitness studio.
Family friend Kim Johnson is housing Palmer and her children for the time being and has also set up a GoFundMe page to help get the family back on their feet. Johnson said along with the loss of the home and personal items, the equipment Palmer uses for her business was also destroyed, so the money raised will go towards helping her get her business reestablished.
The GoFundMe page raised $2,865 of its $10,000 goal after being up for only 20 hours on the afternoon of Sept. 5. The page is available at www.gofundme.com/f/maradise.
Along with the GoFundMe page, a fundraising event has been scheduled for the Cambie Hall on Oct. 5. The fundraiser, which starts at 4 p.m., will feature giant outdoor inflatables for the kids, a silent auction and a concession dinner served by the Eagle Valley 4H Club.
Organizer Joanne Stacey, who will also be performing music at the fundraiser, said both her performance and the open mic to follow will be streamed on Facebook Live.
As the community rallies around the displaced family, investigators are working to unravel the suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire.
Sgt. Murray McNeil of the Sicamous RCMP said the fire is being investigated as suspicious in nature. McNeil said no one was in the house when his officers arrived on the scene after being called by the Sicamous Fire Department. RCMP officers provided security at the scene and awaited fire investigators after the blaze was out.
McNeil said he is awaiting reports from both the Kelowna-based RCMP fire investigator and an investigator from the homeowner’s insurance company.
“We’re still actively investigating why the house caught fire and if anybody is responsible for that in a criminal nature,” McNeil said.
He added that at seven that morning, a person was apprehended under the Mental Health Act near the home destroyed in the fire. The person who the police apprehended is in a hospital and has not been charged with any offence. McNeil said the link between the incident which led to the Mental Health Act arrest and the fire is being investigated.