The view from the driveway. The only thing that appears to remain is the 1st Stop Auto sign. Submitted photos

Family home burned to the ground

“It looked like a war zone there”

“When we were evacuated, the cops came to my house, and… Sorry, this is so hard to talk about,” says Cody Bandsma. “Cops came to my house, and I grabbed everything I could. I grabbed picture frames, I grabbed albums. I really didn’t think it was going to go down, so I didn’t grab as much as I should’ve,” said Cody, whose house in 105 Mile House burned down.

“It’s just all a crater. I don’t know really what to say, it just happened really fast,” he says. Cody is currently staying in Kelowna and adds that they had an automotive mechanics shop by the house as well.

Cody’s dad Stan Bandsma was on holidays in the Shuswap at the time.

“Every time I go to think of, I’m gonna go home and grab that thing … it’s not there anymore. I was very well set up. I had 1st Stop Auto and it was all set up very nicely. I had every piece of equipment that I needed to do just about anything. I had everything really nice and neat, I’m very picky. It’s very devastating for me.”

“Cody was at home, my son, and he said ‘What do you want me to do?’ So we gave him a list and he went through and took personal things like pictures and albums and stuff like that. He got the Mustang out of there, my show car, a ‘73 Mustang Fastback; he got that out of there and another car trailer and he got my Bobcat out of there.

“He was just working tirelessly until 10 o’clock that night. Just getting stuff out of there and he didn’t think of himself. He didn’t even take any of his own stuff, no clothes, nothing. No sentimental stuff of his own. He was amazing and he’s taking it very hard. It’s really rough on him. He was pretty much a one-year-old when we got there and we built everything.

“Everything on that property we had built or rebuilt. There was nothing on that property when we got there. He did an amazing job.”

The family found out their place had burned down through a picture on Facebook.

“Someone drove through in the night actually, and showed us a film of him driving through the driveway and it looked like a war zone there. And then someone put a picture in the morning and put it on Facebook at the end of the driveway pointing in and the only thing standing was the 1st Stop Auto Sign,” he says. “Technically, I shouldn’t even know my house is burned down.”

According to Stan, their home is not the only one destroyed.

“There are other houses that are gone in that area too. I know that because I’ve seen pictures, but I don’t want to say who they are.”

Stan was overwhelmed with it all.

“I’ve lost my business, so I have no way to make an income. That was our total income that we had for our family. I have no way of making an income now and then everything else is gone too,” he says. “We’re just gonna hang out in Kelowna I guess; find a hotel or whatever.”

Stan added he’s really happy all their family members are safe.

Cody says when they can, they’ll go back as a family.

“Whenever we’re we’re allowed in there, we’re gonna go as a family and we’re gonna try and see what we can recover.”

 

The ‘73 Ford Mustang Fastback that Cody managed to save on the lawn in front of their house.

Cody, his dad Stan, and mother Darlene on the porch of their house which burned down in the Gustafsen fire.

The back of the house with part of the shop visible

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