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Lytton evacuee recovering in Squamish after losing home and livelihood to wildfire

A fundraiser has been launched for Daniel Calderoni, who barely escaped the blaze with his life

It is the stuff of nightmares, but for Lytton fire evacuee Daniel Calderoni, and his dog Jack, it was all too real. 

The pair barely escaped with their lives.

The 64-year-old was working as a ranch caretaker in the Botanie Valley near Lytton when a wildfire ripped through the community on June 30, levelling the town. 

Calderoni lost almost everything, including his livelihood.

He is currently in Squamish with his family, who operate the not-for-profit Canine Valley dog behaviour and education centre

Calderoni said he was cutting hay June 30 when the air suddenly changed. Unaware of the threat posed by the wildfire barrelling toward town, he headed home to the ranch. "When he stepped inside his house, bales of hay nearby caught on fire, causing the house to burst into flames. He ran outside and watched his house explode three times. He lost all his kittens, cats and chickens," reads a statement posted on the GoFundMe page, which has been launched to help him get back on his feet. 

As his first language is Spanish, Calderoni spoke to the Chief through his niece Valley Calderoni, who translated. 

Calderoni said he was able to grab only a rag and a jacket, which were near the front door, as he fled his burning home.

He wet the rag with a hose, wrapped the cloth around his head and left, yelling for Jack and his other pets.

Only Jack came. 

There was fire 360 degrees around him by then, he said. 

He made it to a nearby stream, where he stayed for two hours, he said. Fearing his life was still at risk, he decided to try to walk to safety. 

After walking for what he says was about six hours, he was picked up by a passerby and taken to Lillooet. 

There, he was able to call his family in Squamish, who drove to pick him up.

While he had to leave behind the livestock and other animals, many of the cattle and horses survived. Most of his belongings, however, did not. 

"He has nothing, like nothing," said Valley Calderoni.

"His clothes were burned when he got here yesterday [July 1]  and we just went to Walmart and bought him some pants and a shirt and underwear and socks. He lost everything," she said. "He is starting over again." 

He also suffered burns to his hands and head.

With the funds from the online campaign, Calderoni hopes to buy an RV to start his life anew. 

Jack, meanwhile, has been back and forth to the vet with injuries suffered in the fire. 

While the SPCA is a go-to for animals needing shelter, Canine Valley centre is open to dogs from Lytton, if they need help.

The centre has already taken in a few Lytton dogs and helped reunite them with their owners.  

Anyone who needs the centre's assistance can call 604-848-4401.

The centre is also accepting donations of collars, leashes and food for dogs. 

More help

Squamish's Ruff Stuff, which offers dog daycare and boarding, is also pitching in to help Lytton's furry fire victims. 

They so far have collected food, medical supplies and items such as leashes and toys. 

On Friday, employees drove a load of supplies to a pickup spot in New Westminster to head up to Lytton. 

The business is still taking in more donations, according to Ruff Stuff's Kristina Kotlebova.  

Approximately 245 wildfires were reported in the past week in B.C., according to the B.C. Wildfire Dashboard.

If you spot a suspected wildfire, call 1-800-663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.