Rolf Heer, beloved Radium woodcarver, vows to return to craft after devastating fire
A British Columbia man who has been a staple of his community for decades plans to return to his trade less than a month after a fire ravaged his home.
Rolf Heer has lived in Radium Hot Springs for the better part of 40 years and has made his living creating thousands of wood sculptures using material he secured from forested areas near the village.
In November, his home, known as The House of a Thousand Faces, caught fire one morning while he slept. According to town officials. some of Heer's friends noticed the fire, entered the residence and helped him to safety but the unique building and all of his tools were claimed by the blaze.
“I cried for several days,” said Heer. “I’ve never been so hurt in my life. Never in my life.”
“To lose the house and everything in three hours, I tell you, was unbelievable.”
Clara Reinhardt, Mayor of Radium Hot Springs, says it was difficult to see the loss of the longstanding landmark but it was even tougher to witness the impact on its owner. "It’s a very unfortunate situation given that his health is poor. It’s just not how you want people to live out the end of their days.”
Heer vows to return to his craft as he continues to battle a terminal cancer diagnosis. “I plan to do at least 500 or 600 pieces. I’ll work 16 hours a day if I have to,” added Heer. “Life isn’t over yet.”
The woodcarver hopes to rebuild his home and workshop. He is currently living in a trailer and working out of a teepee.
With files from CTV’s Chris Epp