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B.C. students forced to flee wildfire paint mural to thank host community

Francine Freeman, her students and other members of the community are painting a mural on a shipping container in Fort St. John – as a thank you to that community, which has taken in so many evacuees. (Instagram/Francinefreeman.artist) Francine Freeman, her students and other members of the community are painting a mural on a shipping container in Fort St. John – as a thank you to that community, which has taken in so many evacuees. (Instagram/Francinefreeman.artist)
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Fleeing from your home during an emergency like a wildfire is traumatic for everyone – especially children.

But one elementary school art teacher, who is among the evacuees from the fires around Fort Nelson, B.C., is trying to make the best of the situation.

Francine Freeman, her students and other members of the community are painting a mural on a shipping container in Fort St. John – as a thank you to that community, which has taken in so many evacuees.

“It gives them a chance to get away from everything that's going on right now, to have that opportunity to take part in something really big and really cool, and distract them from what’s happening,” Freeman, a teacher at Chalo School on the Fort Nelson First Nation, said Monday.

Freeman hopes the mural – which is of Muncho Lake – will stay to remind the people of Fort St. John of the help they provided.

Nearly 5,000 people are out of their homes due to the fires around Fort Nelson – and roughly 3,500 of those evacuees are staying in Fort St. John.

As of Monday, the B.C. Wildfire Service indicated there is no immediate threat to Fort Nelson, but people are not being allowed home yet.

The weather has been favourable over the last couple of days, but the wildfire service notes that conditions can change rapidly.

Due to the situation, Highway 97 remains closed north of Fort Nelson.

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