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

Staff and board members from Port Alberni Family Guidance Association, from left, Jennifer Minard, Craig Summers, Laurel Lenormand, Melanie Stevenson, Brenda Kraneveldt, Nancy Anslow-Tooke and Doreen Grant, are celebrating the association’s 50th anniversary Oct. 24, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni Family Guidance gets $19K for COVID-19 renovations

Community gaming grant will help keep counselling services running smoothly

Crystal Knudsen, president of Rotary Club of Port Alberni, restocks the little free library in front of Ladybird Engraving on Margaret Street. The Rotary club is working with Literacy Alberni to revive the libraries. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni Rotary Club helps revive little libraries

“We used to have a huge warehouse space but we had to give that up before COVID.”

John Edmondson, left, from Bread of Life, Colin Minions and Capt. Michael Ramsay from the Salvation Army demonstrate Port Alberni’s first community food pantry, located on Tebo Avenue outside Jericho Road Church, Jan. 22, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Free food pantry opens in Port Alberni

Volunteers will monitor the pantry to make sure it stays stocked

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Carol Hanson and Ellen Frood of ACAWS were two of the first 100 people to raise $500 for the Coldest Night of the Year 2021 event across Canada. They received these hoodies in recognition of their efforts. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Coldest Night of the Year goes virtual for 2021

Port Alberni organizers urging people to share photos of their walks to create community feel

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.

Most Read