Jenny Rowlands says they were lucky her mother, Charlotte, wasn’t home at the time, recovering from a previous surgery in hospital. Her brother Johnny, however, was home and had to be airlifted to the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital with third-degree burns on his arms and stomach.
One of their two cats died in the fire, and the other is still missing.
“I’m taking it literally hour by hour,” said Rowlands in a phone interview with the Western News Sunday, adding that she is getting over the shock. “Reality is finally setting in.”
Rowlands expects her brother will be hospitalized for a few weeks, and her mother is in the hospital for a few more days.
“They sent him up to the Intensive Care Unit because he was having breathing problems. He’s kind of sedated right now.”
Rowlands was told her brother’s burns should heal on their own, and they don’t think he is going to need skin grafts. She’s been told her mother is also under medication in the hospital as she recovers from surgery.
“It’s tough, obviously, being away knowing that she’s not really fully knowing what’s going on because she’s in the hospital herself,” said Rowlands. “My concern right now is being here for my brother. And then I’ll have to go down to see my mom.
“But my dad is flying in right now. So he will be heading there tomorrow (Monday).”
Rowlands said her mother has no house insurance, and along with her brother, lost everything in the fire.
“I am looking for support to help her relocate and start her life over again once she is released from the hospital on or near Christmas Day,” wrote Rowlands. “My mother was always a giver and thoughtful when anyone was ever in need. Please open your heart and help my mother in a time of need. I’m so thankful my family is alive. Everything else is replaceable.”
Rowlands has received a few messages from people in the community asking how to donate physical items and gift cards. Any help is welcome, she said.
“I don’t actually even really know where to start. My aunt has told me that social services and the Red Cross are supposed to be stepping in, but we don’t really know to what extent,” said Rowlands.
Those wishing to donate can do so through their GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/charlotte-and-johnny-rowlands-house-fire-recovery.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News