Owen Wilson immigrated to Canada from England four months ago with the hopes of starting a life in Vernon before his downstairs apartment was disintegrated in Thursday’s house fire. (Photo: Harjot Kaur)

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

The house that was reduced to ashes at Commonage Place in Vernon on Thursday had a second renter, in addition to the family of five who spoke to media shortly after the blaze started.

A British Army veteran who recently immigrated to Canada was renting the downstairs floor. Now, both he and the upstairs family have GoFundMe pages set up by friends who have opened their doors to them while they get on their feet.

Just four months ago, Owen Wilson left family and friends behind in England and immigrated to Canada, with the hopes of starting a life of his own and supporting his family from across the pond.

Wilson spent the past two months renovating the bottom floor of the house to make it a livable space to start his new life in Canada. All of his savings from England went into creating his home before all of it went up in flames, as explained on the GoFundMe page started on his behalf by Vernon resident Harjot Kaur.

Read More: Vernon mom rescues sleeping baby from burning home

“He finally moved in, and then the fire happened and he lost everything,” Kaur said in a Saturday interview.

Kaur and her husband, Amar, met Wilson in November 2017 while backpacking in the Philippines, and having stayed in touch they became close friends with him once he made the move from England to Vernon. The Kaurs live right next to the scorched remains of the building that Wilson had lived in for a few short weeks.

The Kaurs have put Wilson up in their home ever since his Mission Hill residence was disintegrated in the fire – the cause of which is not yet known.

Wilson is a British Army veteran who spent time in Afghanistan. Kaur explains that when they met him two years ago he was struggling to find a living wage with the higher cost of living in England, and was living day to day. When he first arrived to Canada he lived with the Kaurs for a couple months to find employment, and Kaur felt that he was just beginning to settle into his new life when the blaze occurred.

“It’s devastating,” said Kaur. “He was so ecstatic to finally have a home in Canada and felt like he was starting to make it.”

The Kaurs also know the upstairs residents of the home – Rick and Tina Sinclair and their three children. A GoFundMe page was created for the Sinclairs by Sophona Rose Slattery on Friday. Like the Kaurs with Wilson, Slattery is housing the Sinclairs until they can recover their bearings.

“They are the nicest and most kind-hearted people,” Kaur said of the Sinclairs, “and same with Owen.”

“Everyone’s pretty shaken up.”

Wilson’s GoFundMe page – posted on Friday around 10 a.m. – has a goal of $3,000, and so far donations have covered the first $170. Like his upstairs neighbours, Wilson did not have renter’s insurance to cover the loss of his possessions.

Read More: Suspicious fire rips through abandoned Okanagan home

Read More: Car catches fire while being towed by motor home on Hwy. 97


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Just Posted

Man suing Penticton library for almost $20K has to settle for less

A man was suing the City of Penticton Library for almost $20,000 after his backpack was stolen

Fall drawdown at Osoyoos Lake starts

Lakeside residents can expect to see water levels drop six inches over the next week

Students down and very dirty at Freak’N Farmer

Students had a chance during the past two weeks to try out the Freak’N Farmer obstacle course

Penticton man with multiple driving infractions loses appeal on ‘harsh’ sentence

Driver has been convicted multiple times, including for criminal negligence causing death

Summerland music promoter wins national award

Paul Biro honoured at 2019 CCMA Awards in Calgary

Third instance of Trudeau in skin-darkening makeup emerges

Another instance of Trudeau using makeup to darken his face has emerged, within 24 hours of the first

West Kelowna motorcyclist awarded $132K for traffic accident

Supreme Court of British Columbia finds pickup truck driver liable for motorcylist’s injuries

Morning Start: Ever wonder how footballs are made?

Your morning start for Thursday, September 19th, 2019.

Nelson man accused of swimming naked at Toronto aquarium expected to plead guilty

David Weaver, of Nelson, was arrested and charged in October of last year

VIDEO: Party leaders react to Trudeau’s brownface photo bombshell

Fallout from Justin Trudeau’s brownface photo, and two other instances, sure to dominate campaign

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized, BC SPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

Vernon race organizer head-butted by homeless man won’t be stopped

Man arrested after allegedly stealing race flags, assaulting woman in Kalamalka Lake park

Most Read