‘It’s camaraderie’: Stranded Nanaimo students given shelter in Port Alberni

Facebook/Parry Quinn Harder

A Port Alberni school opened its doors to shelter a group of students from Nanaimo as a wildfire closed the only route to and from the Vancouver Island city.

As the Cameron Bluffs fire raged on Tuesday, staff at the Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District realized some of their students might be in trouble.

A busload of about 50 students were on their way back from a trip to Tofino earlier in the week but were about to be held up by the road closures on Highway 4.

READ MORE: Highway 4 east of Port Alberni remains fully closed due to out-of-control wildfire

“We got wind after school yesterday. We contacted the Pacific Rim superintendent, Tim Davie…” Dale Burgos told CHEK News.

In a display of remarkable coordination, arrangements were made to get the stranded students some overnight accommodations at the Alberni District Secondary School.

“They arranged for our students to stay overnight,” Burgos said. “The kids had a great time, had some pizza … They were in great spirits.”

Burgos said seeing the school districts work together was nice, especially during an emergency.

“It’s camaraderie … they opened their doors really quickly,” he said.

Today, Burgos hopes the students can take an alternative route around the fire by going to Lake Cowichan. They’re expected to arrive home at 2 p.m.

Parry Quinn, a bus driver for SD68, took to a local Facebook group to thank the community for their hospitality.

“Five stars for this kindness Port Alberni has to offer. So [a] huge thank you to Port Alberni,” read their post.

With over 500 likes, it’s clear that Port Alberni’s compassion has touched the hearts of many in the community and beyond.

Roger Collins

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