Vernon woman sells art to raise cash for family displaced by fire

Vicki Durocher, 59, wants to sell her paintings to raise funds for a family displaced by a fire that destroyed their home on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)

Vicki Durocher never considered herself artistic, but she was inspired by her friend Emma when she saw her artwork online. She decided to pick up a brush and give it a go herself.

Her collection of “abstract feeling” paintings grew and she was selling some on the side to go towards paying off an outstanding two-year-old ICBC bill. But last night, she learned her mentor’s home burned down and everything changed.

Visibly shaken, Durocher, 59, said she has to do something to help.

“I want to auction off 14 of my paintings with all proceeds going to help Emma and her two children,” Durocher said. “Every penny will go to her.”

Durocher said she’s happy to see the community rally so quickly behind a family in need, but she’s not that surprised. She said Vernon has a very strong and giving community.

READ MORE: Cause of Vernon house fire unknown, investigation underway

READ MORE: WATCH: Firefighters battle blaze in Vernon home

Durocher said house fires are something she’s personally been traumatized by before. She said she lost two of her siblings when her family’s house burned down. Durocher said the scars of house fires are long-lasting, both literally and metaphorically.

A GoFundMe campaign started by Kelli Christine late last night and more than $3,300 has been raised for the family.

Durocher said she considered starting a campaign or donating to it, but she is not in a financial position to do so.

“This is my way of giving back,” she said. “It’s a painter helping a painter.”

Durocher said painting is like meditation for her. It allows her to pour out her emotions and experiences onto the canvas and look at it face to face.

“It’s therapeutic,” the Vernon resident of 22 years said, sitting in her small downtown apartment, surrounded by homemade art; ’70s music playing softly in the background.

Her paintings will be available for sale on Facebook. Prices start at $25.

BACKGROUND

Just before 4 p.m., on Thursday, Sept. 26, Vernon firefighters were called to the home on 35th Avenue and 13th Street—across the street from Silver Star Elementary School—to respond to a structure fire.

Upon arrival, deputy fire Chief Hemstad said his crew found one home engulfed in flames and a neighbouring home was in danger of also catching. He said the fire had the potential to spread to the second home but Vernon Fire Rescue acted quickly to defend the dwelling.

Nearly a dozen neighbours lined the sidewalks to watch the situation unfold, even after firefighters and the City of Vernon told the public to stay away from the area to make room for emergency personnel.

BC Hydro and Fortis BC crews cut utilities to the home around 4:30 p.m. Kalamalka Security and Restoration teams arrived on scene shortly before 5 p.m. to ensure the home was secured overnight.

Today was an example of the dedicated work of our local firefighters and the expertise they have in responding to such calls,” fire Chief David Lind said. “Between the two homes is a large tree, which caught fire but crews were able to suppress the fire to save the second home.”

READ MORE: RCMP put brakes on notorious Hwy. 97 driver


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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