Fort McMurray Fire: Gelato Shop Hit By Fire Pays It Forward

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Days after reopening from a blaze that destroyed the interior of its main location, an Alberta gelato shop is pitching in to help those affected by the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Calgary's Fiasco Gelato is donating all proceeds made Wednesday to the Alberta Red Cross to help evacuees from Fort McMurray after a devastating wildfire began sweeping through their town on Tuesday afternoon.

"I know how devastating it can be for people losing their belongings," James Boettcher, owner of Fiasco Gelato, told The Huffington Post Alberta.

"The situation coupled with the factor that we always look after our team and what we’ve been through within our own organization with the fire — you know I felt compelled to do something pretty quickly."

fiasco gelato
Staff at a Calgary gelato shop are pitching in to help Fort McMurray evacuees after their own business was devastated by a fire. (Photo: Fiasco Gelato/Facebook)

Fiasco Gelato has been damaged by fires twice in seven years, first in 2009 at its Kensington location and again in December 2015 at its new location in southeast Calgary. The cafe celebrated its grand reopening this Saturday.

Boettcher says he also experienced the devastating effects of fire when a condo building burnt down near his then-home in the Calgary neighbourhood of Millrise in 2010.

"It’s very easy to get involved. You don’t need to think about the outcomes, you just gotta get your hands dirty and do something rather than do nothing."

It's not the first time Fiasco Gelato has stepped up to help during a natural disaster. When the 2013 floods struck Calgary, the shop created limited edition flavours with proceeds going toward the Calgary Zoo.

One of the staff members at the gelateria has family in Fort McMurray.

"She just moved down here, so she was on the phone with her mother and visibly upset," Boettcher said. "She's handling it quite well."

Boettcher says while her family has made it safely to Edmonton, the fire is burning just blocks away from their home.

The owner says the shop has experienced a "steady stream" of customers since Wednesday morning. They have tripled their staff members behind the counter to deal with the rush of Calgarians looking to help their neighbours up north (and enjoy a cold treat on a hot day, while they're at it).

About 80,000 residents have been displaced from their homes in Fort McMurray in what Premier Rachel Notley says is the largest fire evacuation in the province's history.

Here are some resources for Fort McMurray evacuees:

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Fort McMurray Wildfire (May 2016)
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