Friends raise money for burn victim Whitney Olson, kin

9 were displaced in east Vancouver house fire

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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The woman critically injured in a house fire earlier this month is slowly recovering, and her friends are collecting money to support her and the eight others displaced by the fire.

Whitney Olson, one of the nine people who lived at the house in east Vancouver, was rushed to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center’s burn unit in Portland, where she has since been upgraded to serious condition.

The fire also gutted the house, leaving the family looking for a new place to live.

Eileen Priebe, who has been a neighbor to Whitney Olson’s parents, Lars and Carol Olson, for about 12 years, said the family is coping.

Priebe last spoke to the Olsons last week, and said Whitney Olson, 23, recently underwent a skin graft on her arm and a tracheotomy to get her off a ventilator.

“She continues to improve a little bit each day,” Priebe said. “Progress is a little slow but definitely in the right direction.”

The last Priebe heard, Olson was doing a lot of sleeping.

Since the fire, Priebe set up an online fundraising page called the “Lars Olson house fund” on GoFundMe.com. As of Monday afternoon, the campaign had raised about $7,900 to help with mounting medical expenses for Olson and other costs.

“Honestly, I really didn’t have any expectation when I set it up, so I’m just tickled with the success that it had,” she said.

The Olsons have homeowners insurance, she said, have been shopping around for a contractor and plan to rebuild. Until then, they’ve been looking for a place to rent.

Friends and strangers have put money forward, Priebe said.

“We’re just really tickled with the generosity of people in the community,” she said.