News Local

Grassfire survivor loses everything, saved by Daisy Duke

 by Twyla Siple, Interlake Spectator

Sixty-five-year-old Allen Evanchyshin, who lost everything in a devastating fire on April 29, is at a loss for words, as his community has come together to support him with a benefit social to be held at the Komarno Community Hall on June 9 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. complete with food, dancing and a silent auction.
 
“It’s just overwhelming. I mean, the people that came together to support me? There’s no words to explain that,” Evanchyshin told The Interlake Spectator on May 22.
 
“It’s kind of hard (to talk about). I have been a part of the community for many years. I was a counsillor for the RM of Armstrong for 12 years.”
 
Semi-retired and a community support worker for persons with disabilities in the Town of Arborg, Evanchyshin was at his home on the property that is now destroyed, taking a nap when he heard the sound of his brother’s dog, barking frantically.
 
Saved by Daisy Duke
“If I hadn’t heard the dog bark, I wouldn’t be here.” Evanchyshin said.
 
“I was up in Gimli, and I came home and went for a nap. I usually like to go for an (afternoon) nap,” he explained.
 
Evanchyshin, who owns a pet cat, woke to the sound of Daisy Duke barking, shortly after he lay down.
 
“Sometimes my brother’s dog comes down,” he explained. “So I looked out the window and I saw the flames.”
 
Evanchyshin said he immediately grabbed his phone and dialed 911. 
 
“When I phoned them, I said ‘there’s a fire coming’ - I told her the location, and as I stepped outside I saw the firemen coming.”
 
Evanchyshin said he felt lucky that his call even got through to the operator.
 
 “In my area, there’s really no cell service, only sometimes. Even the firemen have trouble with communication,” he said.
 
But with the winds marking nearly 70 kilometres per hour, Evanchyshin lost his childhood home where he had lived since he was 15-years-old, along with a his collection of guitars and musical instruments, and the barn that belonged to his farther before him
 
“My cat got his whiskers singed and his fur a bit,” Evanchyshin said of his 10-year-old cat, Neil. He was able to save his animals, including the horses in the barn. 
 
“It’s nice to see the community come together (to help me). I (just) feel humbled. (Times like these) you just have to make the best of it, I guess.”
 
Helping hands
After hearing how Evanchyshin lost his home, his farm and all his possessions, the community he served as a councillor for put a call out to come together and “Lend a helping hand,” according to the social posters.
 
Char Dziedzic said she spearheaded the benefit social.
 
“We all kind of (agreed) that we needed to do something for him, because he lost everything. Not just his home, but also his farm, and all of his equipment,” Dziedzic said. “Every little bit helps. It doesn’t matter from a nickle to a dollar, it all helps to put somebody’s life back together, whether if it’s a small or large amount.”
 
“Everything we have (for the social) has been donated. We’re very lucky.” Dziedzic said. “Komarno donated the hall to us, and the Rock Pickers and Guests music has all been donated. They’re a bunch of local guys that all got together and that’s what they’re calling themselves. We’re very very lucky, because everything has been donated. Even the lunch we’ll be serving during the dance was donated.”
 
Social tickets are $15 and are the fundraiser is nearly sold out, according to Dziedzic. However, support tickets will continue to be available.
 
For more information on supporting the benefit social, please visit the J & J Store in Fraserwood, the Komarno Quality Store, Inwood Food Town or call Char at 204-278-3346, or Henry at 204-886-7805.


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