Squamish folks banding together to help fire-weary Australia

Howe Sound Brew Pub event on Thursday and again Jan. 25 



It isn't uncommon to hear an Australian accent around Squamish and so it isn't a surprise to hear many in town have been focussed on the fires that have been raging Down Under.

So far, officials say 24 people have died from the brush fires there this fire season, according to CNN reports.

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About 480 million animals have died across New South Wales, which has been hardest hit by the fires, professor Chris Dickman with the University of Sydney, estimates.

The NSW government has recently declared its third state of emergency related to these fires ahead of worsening conditions.

In the face of such frightening news, Squamish locals are banding together to raise funds to help.

The Howe Sound Brew Pub is putting on a fundraiser on Thursday, Jan. 9. The event gets underway at 6 p.m. in the  Firebread Restaurant where staff will be collecting donations for WIRES Wildlife Rescue (NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service), which bills itself as Australia's largest wildlife rescue organization.

Attendees can watch the classic Aussie movie The Castle while enjoying cheap beers, and eats.

Several staff at the restaurant hail from Australia, a spokesperson for the pub told The Chief.

Squamish artist Maree Rattray will also be on hand selling her tapestries from 6 p.m., with $10 from each piece being donated to WIRES.

Rattray is from Perth, Australia and will be moving back this April, so the crisis literally hits close to home.

"It has been hard seeing all the devastation back home," she said. "It is kind to hard to fathom the extremity of how big the fires are."

She said that she wants the money to go to the wildlife rescue because the animals in Australia are "so unique and so precious."

"People can help each other, but we need to help and protect animals," she said.

A karaoke event in support of Australia is planned for Jan. 25 at the Howe Sound Brewery, starting at 9 p.m. In addition to collecting donations, a portion of the sales for the night will go to the relief effort as well.

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