Canadian TV host Jillian Harris recalls B.C. wildfire experience: 'Heartbreaking'

The "Love It or List It Vancouver" host urged people to donate to local organizations amid the chaos.

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 19: Jillian Harris speaks at Indigo Bay & Bloor on September 19, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Jeremychanphotography/Getty Images)
Canadian TV host Jillian Harris opened up about the devastating wildfires affecting British Columbia. (Photo by Jeremychanphotography/Getty Images)

Jillian Harris is sharing her experience with the wildfires in British Columbia.

In a heartrending Instagram post shared last week, the "Love It or List It Vancouver" host, 43, opened up about the devastating wildfires that have ravaged Kelowna, B.C. and the surrounding Okanagan area.

Alongside photos of the blaze near her property in West Kelowna, B.C., the design expert shared her emotional journey as she, her family and the community faced the relentless fires.

In the caption to her post, Harris recounted the day when the inferno struck her community, saying that Aug. 17 "started out like any other hot summer day."

"As we sat on the dock with our family and out of town guests, we watched a plume of smoke start to billow overtop of the farm," she recalled, adding that wildfire season in the province means many people become "desensitized" to the smoke, and that everyone thought things would be safe.

"Little did we know, two hours later we would be evacuating the farm, running home to pack up our house in preparation for evacuation and two hours after that, one of the biggest fires in Okanagan's history would be tragically destroying our community," Harris shared.

"Watching our community on fire is nothing short of tragic. Feelings of fear as the fire inches closer to your home, panic, helplessness and then the aftermath of heartbreak, and even guilt knowing many have lost their only home and ours was spared."

Despite the immense challenges, Harris found strength and solace in the unity of her community.

"There aren't enough sorrys, fundraising, donating, volunteering, thoughts and prayers that will put the emotional pieces back together. It will take this community years to heal and even then it will never be the same," she added. "How do you even find a silver lining in all of this?"

She continued in the comments section of her post to note that the locals affected by the wildfires and the first responders have been "absolutely amazing."

"I don't know what will transpire next," Harris wrote. "I personally am thinking of those who have lost their homes and how we can best directly support them. What about those with no insurance coverage? What about the firefighters who lost everything while saving our community? I don't have all the answers but will continue to update you all along the way."

In a Monday news conference, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma noted that "8,000 properties across the province continue to be under an evacuation order, while 54,000 are under an evacuation alert," according to CBC News.

Recent assessments show the McDougall Creek wildfire burnt 189 structures. (Photo via THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Recent assessments show the McDougall Creek wildfire burnt 189 structures. (Photo via THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Wrapping up her message, Harris urged people to support local businesses affected during a usually busy season, and showed empathy to those suffering through the ordeal.

Harris also asked people to donate to local organizations including Mamas for Mamas, the Central Okanagan Food Bank, the Westside Salvation Army, United Way and the Canadian Red Cross.

In response, many fans met Harris' powerful message with supportive notes and well-wishes.

"Absolutely gut wrenching. I cannot fathom what it's been like for those who are currently displaced and what it is going to be/look like for the community as it tries to recover from them. Not a day has gone by in the last week that I haven't thought of the people in Kelowna," shared Toronto-based influencer Sasha Exeter.

"Sending so much love to you and your community," an Instagram user commented.

"It's all so heartbreaking and horrifying. God bless the firefighters and everyone doing what they can to try and get through the unimaginable," another added.

One person wrote, "You are a true inspiration and a fierce leader. We are all so lucky to have you leading the charge and supporting these communities."

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