No one was hurt, but few things survived the fire that burned down John Gerz’ home in Queen Charlotte on Jan. 15. Starting with a small building with a washroom and kitchen, they are looking to rebuild with help from the community where Gerz has made his home since 1974. (Submitted)

Father and son rebuild after fire in Queen Charlotte

John Gerz is extra grateful for Queen Charlotte firefighters.

Not only did they save his son Ryan’s tiny home from the fire that destroyed his own trailer on Jan. 15, but they were back the next day with donations.

“They gave us a microwave, a toaster oven and some dishes,” said Gerz. “It helped us do some cooking.”

For Gerz, losing the 80-foot trailer was bad enough.

Inside was his computer, several tools, a carved wooden desk that was a gift from his mother, and all his old vinyl records and reel-to-reel music tapes. The 2nd Avenue home was uninsured.

“I try not to think about it too much,” said Gerz, who at 71 has a part-time job at the Super Valu in Sandspit, where he also keeps an R.V.

“Having a part-time job here helps quite a bit,” he said. “It takes my mind off of things.”

Besides lack of insurance and two weeks of steady rain that turned the wrecked trailer site into a sea of mud, Gerz said the tricky thing about rebuilding is that his son’s tiny home has no kitchen, washroom, or running water.

So after wheeling all the trailer wreckage into a pair of dumpsters, their first task is to put up a small building that can house a shower, toilet, sink, and hot-water tank.

Gerz was looking forward to getting a lot of the cleaning up done over the Family Day holiday, but said they could use some financial help to finish the little building.

A donations account is now set up at the Northern Savings Credit Union, with the number 7416951, and a GoFundMe page has also been set up. In-kind donations are also coming in, including a metal roof from AMS Building Supply.

Gerz said the Jan. 15 trailer fire started after sparks flew up from a rubbish fire that his son had going in the backyard. His son tried to douse the flames himself, but it spread too quickly.

Once they are able to get a shower, cooking area, and washroom on site, Gerz said the next step is to find a used R.V. for himself so he doesn’t have to sleep on his son’s chesterfield when he’s in Queen Charlotte. His dog Harley could use his own space to curl up, too.

“If there is one available on the islands, I would gladly look at that,” he said. “I’m pretty handy, so you know, if it needs a bit of work I can do that.”

To phone Gerz about donations, helping out, or a used R.V. on Haida Gwaii, call 250-559-4407.

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