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Former Calgary couples' retirement dreams dashed after losing Shuswap home in wildfire

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Julie and Kevin Matiowsky's home on the shore of Shuswap Lake is among thousands gutted by fast-moving wildfires in B.C. that have torn through the region in recent days.

Now the couple, originally from Calgary, is looking at starting over, and say they may move back to Alberta as their dreams of retirement in their B.C. home have been ruined.

Following an evacuation order for the area last Friday, Julie said she looked at the house and said, "Don't go anywhere, I'll be back in a few weeks."

The couple has since learned the home has been reduced to rubble, and the items inside, many of sentimental value, have been destroyed as well.

"I still have a feeling like I'm going back but there's nothing there," said Kevin.

The Matiowskys are currently staying in Calgary with relatives, and have set up a GoFundMe account to help keep them afloat as they sort out the details of their home insurance and determine what to do now.

"It's just hard to know that your whole life is now just gone. I don't know how to feel about it. It's still coming in waves. It's hard," said Julie, as her eyes filled with tears.

Kevin then added, "There's many others in the same situation."

The couple says they are unsure if rebuilding back at the lake in B.C. will be an option, and they may eventually consider moving back to Calgary but aren't making any decisions. 

EVACUATION REMAINS IN EFFECT

As of Thursday, Emergency Info BC stated an evacuation order was still in effect for the northern shore of Shuswap Lake, including the Scotch Creek and Celista communities.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the Bush Creek East fire in the Shuswap region remains the province's top priority wildfire, and up to 150 more firefighters were scheduled to arrive on-site Wednesday and Thursday to further contain the blaze.

Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch late Tuesday for the Shuswap region - one of the hardest-hit fire zones - with Salmon Arm recording 12 millimetres of rain on that day, the biggest single-day total all year.

The Bush Creek East wildfire burning between Chase and Sorrento is estimated at 41,041 square-kilometres and has been described as one of the fastest moving, most aggressive fires in the province's history.

According to Forrest Tower, BC Wildfire Service Information Officer, there are 139 wild-land firefighters supported by 112 structural protection firefighters responding to the Bush Creek East fire.

An additional 100 fire crews from Mexico are expected to arrive on Friday.

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With files from The Canadian Press and Kraig Krause, CTV News

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