Stepping down into the rubble of his family’s Lake Cowichan home to salvage what he could from the ashes was a low point for Travis Bell.
But he says his community’s support since the fire that destroyed the Bell home and sent the family running for their lives has made what was so heartbreaking, possible to overcome now.
“They gave us clothes off their backs and everything, so I mean, I can’t ask for more help than that,” said Travis in an interview Tuesday.
“They gave us some hope, you know. Gave us some support, hope and everything to get all this done,” said Travis’ father, Mike Bell.
“I mean, you could really be stuck in the dumps over something like this, but from the community’s support, it’s kept our spirits lifted and going.”
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The family was all asleep in the Cowichan Avenue home in the early morning of Sunday, July 9, when the massive fire broke out. An off-duty RCMP officer who spotted the flames on his way to work came running to wake them and get them out safely before explosions started going off.
Then bullets started began flying. According to Mike, tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition and gunpowder were stored by his late father in the home’s basement during his career as a bullet reloader, and the flames ignited much of it.
“He had about 30,000 rounds all together. Live rounds,” said Mike.
So now the Bell family is going through the debris looking for any live rounds, as machinery began clearing the site Tuesday to prepare it for rebuilding.
“If it weren’t for our community or our friend Dan or people helping us, we wouldn’t be here,” said Travis.
“It’s just been like almost awe stunning that people have been so helpful,” added Mike.
As of Tuesday, online fundraisers and community events had raised over $5,000 to help the Bells get back on their feet. With support and offers of work parties to help with rebuilding, giving the family even more reason to call Lake Cowichan home.