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Cluster of downtown Edmonton establishments step up with free food for wildfire evacuees

Fire turning life upside down is something that Taylor Dahlen is familiar with.

Ten years ago, the general manager for The Pint Downtown and his family had their Sherwood Park home burn down.

"We lost the family home we grew up with, all the heirlooms, so I know what these people are going through," he told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

The people Dahlen is referring to are residents of Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories who have had to flee their homes due to wildfires, coming to Edmonton and other communities in western Canada to find refuge while waiting to hear when and if they can return.

When he first saw news of people evacuating their homes due to the recent wildfire threats, Dahlen said he wanted to do something to help them.

"I kind of know the impact people deal with when they're going through this," he said. "I wanted to do something that made people feel at home."

His 109 Street bar and eatery is offering free pizza to people who've been displaced by wildfires no matter where they live. All they need to show is a piece of ID for the complimentary hospitality.

And it's not just The Pint offering food for evacuees: Dahlen has enlisted 11 other members of the tight-knit community of downtown establishments to join the effort, including the Canadian Brewhouse, Central Social Hall, Local Public Eatery and Greta Bar.

"One of our core values is to support our community," said Mike Wheeler, chief executive officer of the Canadian Brewhouse, whose restaurant chain includes a location in Kelowna, the city in B.C.'s Okanagan that has seen a number of residents displaced due to wildfires. "Immediately, we needed to jump in and do something to help people out, have our door open for them when they needed a place to go and offer some kind of support."

Yellowknife evacuee Chilanda Bashagi, eating on Friday at the Canadian Brewhouse location at 109 Street across 104 Avenue from MacEwan University, said the complimentary meal helps her financially.

"I don't even think I would have been able to make my money last this long because I didn't know we would be out here this long," said Bashagi, who ate with a group of N.W.T. co-workers.

The outpouring of support is something the premier of the Northwest Territories says won't soon be forgotten.

"I shall never forget the support and kindness of Albertans," N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane said Friday in Calgary during a tour of an evacuation centre. "You've truly shown what it means to care for people." Top Stories

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