The Central Saanich Fire Department received a visit Monday (Aug. 21) from Kelowna residents whose home was saved by firefighters, including members of the department.
Malindi Elmore and her family came to the fire hall with sandwiches and drawings.
“It is these special moments in your fire service career that you cherish,” Central Saanich Fire Chief Kenn Mount said in a Facebook post. “We are proudly hanging some art for our fire crews that went to West Kelowna on Friday.”
Elmore shared her story in an Instagram post.
“We went out to a celebratory dinner on Thursday night and when we came out, the air was ominous, heavy with smoke and howling with wind,” she said in the post. “Plumes of smoke filled the sky as the McDougall Creek fire, raging for days in the backcountry, was rushing towards the urban interface in West Kelowna.”
The fire soon spread to Elmore’s neighbourhood, and she was forced to evacuate with her family.
“It was so, so windy and so, so hot – the most terrible conditions for a raging fire. I knew I would not sleep but had no idea we would be racing away from the fire in short order. As we jumped into the car, we were absolutely shocked to see only 500 m from our house, that our hillside was on fire. We fled to friends for the night closer to town.”
She wrote the next two days were agony as not only their neighbourhood was in jeopardy, but the fire also decimated West Kelowna, spreading north through Kelowna and Lake Country.
While the family was safe away from the home, Elmore’s webcam showed a Central Saanich fire truck and firefighters saving her home from the fire.
“We have so much gratitude to the fire crews and RCMP who saved people and homes working tirelessly for 48 hours as the weather worked against them,” Elmore said. “Fire crews from around B.C. came to our aid, offering their services. Thank you to the heroes who saved so much of our community, and condolences to those who lost their homes.”
At a regional wildfire update Tuesday (Aug. 22), West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund said he expects structure losses in his community and on Westbank First Nation lands to be less than 90.
He said there should be fewer than 70 full and partial property losses in West Kelowna and less than 20 on Westbank First Nation.
Evacuation orders have been rescinded in West Kelowna and on Westbank First Nations lands, and orders in Lake Country have been downgraded to alerts.
– With files from Gary Barnes