Tanya Kielpinski (centre) with her father, Terry Tomm (centre top), and her two grandparents who live in the Interior. (Contributed photo)

UNDER EVACUATION: Trip of a lifetime on hold for North Delta-born evacuee

A cancelled father-daughter trip to Europe would have cost a 150 Mile family thousands without help

One in a ten-part series showcasing the volunteerism, community and resilience surrounding those evacuated due to the wildfires engulfing parts of the B.C. Interior.


Tanya Kielpinski was cleaning the bathroom of her travel trailer during her phone interview with the Reporter “just for some normal.”

“It’s so funny because it’s the last thing I should be doing, but I just, I don’t know. I think it will help,” she said. “You know what it’s like when you just need a little bit of normal?”

Kielpinski is one of the 43,000 wildfire evacuees who is desperately hoping for a bit more normal. It’s now more than 14 days since Kielpinski and her family were forced to leave their home in 150 Mile House; Kielpinski and her three sons are living in their travel trailer at a resort 20 minutes outside of Salmon Arm. Her husband left on Wednesday, July 19 to work up north for two weeks.

“It’s been surreal. I don’t even know how to explain it,” Kielpinski said.

“To be honest, those days [after the evacuation] kind of all mixed to me. We were evacuated four times in two days, so I don’t remember all of it.”

The Kielpinskis were camping near Shuswap when they recieved the evacuation order for 150 Mile House. Unable to return home to grab anything beyond what was already in their trailer, the family drove up to 100 Mile House, hoping to get temporary access to check on their cat and chickens.

That night, 100 Mile House was evacuated.

RELATED: CRD and 100 Mile begin evaluating safe return for evacuated residents

Kielpinski moved on to Sheridan Lake, still hoping to get temporary access to their home. Sheridan Lake was then put on evacuation alert, and the local MLA requested that anyone already evacuated leave the community so residents could prepare to evacuate.

“Then it’s kind of been two nights here, two nights there, just trying to find a place to set up home,” Kielpinski said.

On top of evacuations and home worries, Kielpinski had another problem. Her father, Terry Tomm, had booked a 14-day, father-daughter trip to Europe, but because of the evacuation order, Kielpinski hadn’t been able to grab her passport.

“I [also] knew I couldn’t leave my family,” she said. “I have three boys. And animals. I just knew I couldn’t leave while this was happening to my home.”

Tomm hadn’t purchased cancellation insurance. When Kielpinski was evacuated on July 7, their trip was seven days away.

Tomm called British Airways, their flight provider, and asked if he could move the flight dates. They offered him a $400 refund on the two tickets to London. Then, he called Expat Explore, the tour company he had booked with.

“This was now five days before the trip,” Kielpinski said. “They said that if my dad had called six days ago, they could have possibly done something, but because it’s such short notice, there’s not much they can do.

“At that point I got kind of upset, because I knew my dad was going to be out all this money. So I took to social media.”

On a Facebook post, which Kielpinski took down three hours later to avoid negative comments about her dad not purchasing cancellation insurance, Kielpinski asked for suggestions on how to deal with her trip.

Someone tagged Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon on the post. Kielpinski had grown up in North Delta, and Tomm currently lives in the community, but Kahlon didn’t know this when he first saw the post.

“Normally, at work you serve the people of North Delta,” Kahlon said. “But I just felt like I just wanted to help.”

“The fire is all around them, they’re doing so much,” he added. “I thought the last thing they should be worrying about is this.”

He called Kielpinski, and told her she didn’t need to worry about her trip.

“When Ravi first called me, the initial feeling I can say was huge relief, because I just felt so appreciative of someone helping,” she said.

Kahlon called British Airways, getting help from the Vancouver Airport Authority. At first, there was nothing. Eventually, he managed to secure Tomm and Kielpinski credit to rebook their flights any time in the next six months.

Then it was on to Expat Explore, which eventually credited the pair most of their money, allowing them to use the credit anytime in the next year.

“I think we lost maybe $1,500 or something from that,” Kielpinski said. “It all worked out amazing.”

Thanks to help from strangers and social media, Kielpinski doesn’t have to worry about Europe or her dad’s finances anymore. She can focus on creating a plan for her family that will keep them focused for the next two weeks.

“No one knows when we are going home. People think that it will be a while,” she said.

“Our plan is to set up here for the next week or two. If our house does get let back in, that’s what I will do.”

In the meantime, Kielpinski is going to keep cleaning the bathroom.

Just Posted

Evacuation order rescinded

Residents of nearby homes able to return after six days

WATCH: Steps being made to extract ammonia, say experts

City workers and family members spoke to media today

Evacuation remains in effect for residents near arena

Community pulling together to help those who have been out of their homes for over three days

UPDATED: Hydro lines down near Moyie

Hydro lines affecting traffic on Highway 3 south of Moyie.

Victim in fatal ammonia leak remembered for his passion and smile

Friends and colleagues remember Lloyd Smith as someone who was always willing to help people

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Search ramps up for B.C. woman after dog, car found near Ashcroft

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

Arraignment set for man facing child porn charges

A Fernie man is facing two charges related to the possession and… Continue reading

Elementary students get a special lesson in fire prevention

The garbage bags signified smoke. Grade three students at Isabella Dicken Elementary… Continue reading

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Most Read