Local man helps victims deal with massive Canada fire

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Jim McGrath (image courtesy Global News)

Seeing images of the massive Fort McMurray Fire in Canada inspired Jim McGrath, of Clayton, to go there and help.

Global News reports it took him almost four days to drive the more than 2,500 miles from North Carolina to Alberta. For a week, he distributed necessary supplies to fire victims through the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society.

"I just felt empathy," McGrath said in a Skype interview from Canada. "I don't know what went through my mind, but I just decided that it was something I needed to do."

Perhaps it's because McGrath knows what it's like to suffer through a natural disaster. When Hurricane Fran hit our state in 1996, McGrath lost power, water, trees. Twenty-four people lost their lives.

Now, McGrath is helping those who've experienced loss from this massive wildfire.

"It makes me feel good," McGrath said.

The Fort McMurray Fire has burned about 1.4 million acres. It's wiped out about 10 percent of the structures in Fort McMurray and nearly 90,000 residents have been evacuated.

McGrath is now on his way back to the Triangle and is expected to arrive Saturday.

He is hoping to inspire others to volunteer.

"I was hoping that some people would say 'Who the heck is this American coming up here?'" McGrath said. "We can do that. Great. Go do that. Go help."

McGrath is blogging about his experience HERE

If you want to help fire victims, McGrath suggests reaching out to the following organizations:

Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society CLICK HERE FOR MORE

The Canadian Red Cross CLICK HERE FOR MORE

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