The North Okanagan’s representative in Victoria wants her riding to continue working together as wildfires rage in and around the region’s borders.
In a letter to constituents released Wednesday, Aug. 18, Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu said the White Rock Lake fire is “unrivalled by any other event in our region’s history.”
“We’ve seen how it has impacted our family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers,” wrote Sandhu. “People have had to leave their homes behind, many are dealing with loss, and uncertainty.
“I care deeply about the people who call this region home and the sadness, fear and concern that is gripping our communities right now. I recognize these emotions in myself, in my loved ones and my constituents.”
Despite all these challenges, people’s compassion, care and empathy is “shining through.”
“I’m so grateful to see how our community is coming together to look out for one another,” said Sandhu. “I want to thank all the hard-working firefighters, emergency service personnel and volunteers working around the clock to keep people safe. The logistics and planning that go into fighting a fire of this magnitude are great and I’m so grateful for the efforts of people across the province.”
And Harwinder obviously isn’t the only one who appreciates the efforts.
Residents have been posting signs around the fire camp where BC Wildfire Service crews are stationed and have even started a nightly cheering club.
Meeting in clusters at safe points along Old Kamloops Road and at the entrance gate to the firefighters’ camp (while being courteous with noise near the camp as night crews sleep during the day) people hold signs and dress up to cheer for the crews as they arrive/depart.
“We had 50 people at the corner of Old Kamloops Road/Goose Lake Road last night,” organizer Amanda Quiring said.
They meet at 6 p.m. to greet returning crews for about 90 mins, then fresh crews start heading out around 7:30/45. Quiring suggest morning residents could try the same thing in the a.m.
The waves, words of kindness, and even Minnie Mouse, are equally appreciated by the firefighters.
“As if their grins, honks, flashing lights, sirens, hang-tens, waves, blown kisses, and filming us weren’t clear enough, a firefighter pulled over last night to thank us all for cheering and let us know it matters deeply to the crews; said they’d all pull over to thank us if they could,” Quiring said. “He explained that they work long, hard days, and his voice broke as he said coming back to cheering is emotional for all of them.”
Anyone is welcome to join the cheering squad, but is suggested to bring some tissues.
The White Rock Lake wildfire is listed at an estimated 81,000-plus hectares in size.