Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

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

The city of Fernie is reminding residents that the evacuation order is still in effect and that emergency social services and specialists from the Provincial Disaster Psychosocial program will also be offering services.

On Tuesday afternoon residents near the Fernie Memorial Arena were ordered to evacuate the premises after an ammonia leak occured at the site. Trinity Lodge was included in the evacuation, as well as the seniors residence behind the arena.

“Our manager walked in and said get your coat and go,” said John Luke, a resident at the Trinity Lodge and board member for the Fernie Ghostriders hockey team.

Luke, a lifelong Fernie resident who has spent more than 40 years volunteering with the Hockey team says he learned about the leak after being evacuated from the premises.

He and 31 other residents from Trinity Lodge were taken to the Seniors Drop In Centre where Emergency Social Services assisted the evacuees.

Dozens of houses were evacuated from the area surrounding the arena, as well as a number of businesses such as Crossfit Fernie, the Fernie Gymnastics Club and the chirporactic office.

“Once we got to the bus they told us there was an ammonia leak,” said Luke.

From the drop-in centre, residents from Trinity Lodge were taken to the Stanford Inn, where evacuees have been staying for the past three days.

Volunteers have been collecting donations of shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste for the evacuated residents. The hotel has been supplying breakfasts and dinners, while organizers like Deanna Vincent have been cooking warm meals for the residents of Trinity Lodge.

“People have been tremendous,” said Luke, sitting in the front lobby of the Inn.

Other evacuated families have been able to bring along pets and stay on the ground floor of the hotel.

Local companies and organizations are chipping in to help the evacuees as well; Canadian Tire has sent along snacks, the Salvation Army has provided extra clothing and the Fernie Heritage Library brought books over to read.

On a regular Friday afternoon, John Luke would be at the arena by 2:00 p.m. to get ready to sell tickets for the hockey game that evening.

“I’ve been with that team since 1991,” said Luke, who used to be the timekeeper for the team, as well as run the bar and help with security.

The Ghostriders will be playing home games at the hockey arena in Sparwood until further notice.

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