A former Salt Spring Island resident is in need of help after his home and belongings were destroyed in a fire earlier this year.
Tom Reigel, 72, had been living near the ghost town of Sandon, B.C. for five years and working as a caretaker before his cabin burnt down in January. Reigel was a long-time Salt Spring resident before moving to Sandon. His family wants to help him move back to Salt Spring and is looking for donations from the community that will go towards buying him a more permanent home on the island.
“We’re really trying to reach out to his community,” said Reigel’s daughter Jessica Rosalind. “He originally moved to Salt Spring in 1970 and he’s been there intermittently. It’s been his main community for the past 40 years. So he’s a well-known old timer on the island. A lot of people know him and love him.”
Rosalind described Reigel as one of the “old-school” Salt Springers. He worked as a stone mason for years, and did the stone work at places like Stowel Lake Farm and Beaver Point Hall. He also worked at the Musgrave Road sawmill in the 1980s.
“When the Fulford Inn used to stand he used to play pool there quite frequently and kick everybody’s butts. He’s quite good at pool,” she said.
Reigel had been living in a small cottage called “Shangri-La” just outside of the ghost town. On Jan. 11, his 110-year-old home had a chimney fire that quickly consumed the rest of the structure. He was able to grab a few items near the door, but not very much.
“He lost everything,” said Rosalind. “The things that he did have were really meaningful and did have a purpose. They’re all burned, there’s nothing left.”
The family is trying to buy Reigel a motorhome or RV. Reigel is currently staying in Texas with his sister until something more permanent becomes available.
“We’ve contacted some of our friends and family that have been able to help us reach the amount we have on the GoFundMe so far, but I feel like there are a lot more people on Salt Spring who know him really well who would like to help if they actually knew what happened,” she said.
People can access the Tom Reigel House Fire Relief campaign on GoFundMe.com.