Neighbours have set up a GoFundMe account to help Peter Colyn, whose trailer was severely damaged in a fire last month.
(Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Neighbours have set up a GoFundMe account to help Peter Colyn, whose trailer was severely damaged in a fire last month. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Neighbours rally to help Duncan man after trailer fire

GoFundMe account set up to help with clean-up and moving

Neighbours are rallying around a Cowichan Valley resident who lost his home to a fire last month.

Peter Colyn’s trailer caught fire on Sept. 11, and is beyond repair. While he has already found a new place to live, it will cost him thousands of dollars to move the shell of the trailer out of the park where he has lived for 47 years — 46 of them in the same spot.

The 75-year-old Colyn has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, leaving him with 25 per cent lung capacity, and as a result he is on oxygen. That doesn’t prevent him from taking care of himself, though.

“I still try to do all kinds of things,” he says. On Sept. 11, Colyn was working on the trailer with a torch, preparing to build a new roof he had saved up for. He believes a spark got into the wall and smouldered for hours before finally catching fire. He was doing dishes that afternoon when his neighbours yelled at him that they could see flames.

“I’ve been torching on this place for 47 years, probably, but one spark decided to hibernate for a little while, and poof,” he recalls.

The fire spread into the ceiling, where it did most of its damage. Most of the ceiling was destroyed, and about 5,000 gallons of water got into the floor as firefighters doused the blaze.

“It kind of really buggered up the living room and three quarters of the kitchen,” Colyn says.

Because the only source of heat in the trailer was a wood-burning stove, he was unable to get insurance. Until he can get the remnants of the trailer out of the park, he is paying rent on the pad and on the apartment he was fortunate to find soon after the fire and which he is currently moving into.

“It’s one in 1,000 that I got an apartment,” Colyn says. “Everything’s got a waiting list.”

Even better, Colyn is allowed to keep his cat at the new place. He’s been staying with his sister while he salvages what he can from the trailer and relocates. She tolerates the cat, he says, but she’s not used to it.

“She’s 92, and she’s a little bit fussy,” he explains with a grin. “She’s set in her ways.”

An avid reader, Colyn had about 3,000 books in the trailer and lost half of them to the flames and water. He’s limited to what he can have in his apartment, as well, and is sorting through what’s left to decide what to keep.

“He’s got many years of memories to go through,” says neighbour Deborah Helme, who has set up a GoFundMe account for Colyn and is helping him sell stuff on Facebook. She had already sold his washer, dryer, wheelbarrow and power saw, and was taking pictures of his air conditioner to post.

It will cost $5,000 at the very least to move the trailer off the pad, and Colyn will also need a bin to remove the garbage and damaged parts of the trailer, and any assistance is welcome. Donations are being accepted online at https://www.gofundme.com/f/peter-colyn-fire-relief-fund

firefundraising

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chantal Schwark, left with Gerri Gill and Elle Schwark, 11 months old in the pumpkin patch at Arrowvale Farm. (SONJA DRINKWATER/ Alberni Valley News)
Final day for Arrowvale pumpkin patch is Oct. 25

Drive down to the patch and pick your own pumpkin

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

(The Canadian Press)
Overdose advisory issued for Alberni Valley

Island Health warns of increased number of overdoses in central Vancouver Island community

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
School District 70 gets a new name

Name change reflects district’s West Coast roots

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read