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Community rallies around Okanagan firefighters

Thank a firefighter or first responder

Despite losing their own homes to the McDougall Creek blaze, 13 firefighters pushed through and saved countless other structures in West Kelowna and the Northwestside.

While across the community, a lone firefighter stayed behind to fight flames with a garden hose, while his crew was called to a different neighbourhood. It is stories such as these that give the community hope in times of crisis as a multiple wildfires raged through the Central Okanagan destroying almost 180 structures in the process.

West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund has been a calm, resounding voice during the Grouse Complex blaze which took off spreading from the west side of Okanagan Lake into North Kelowna and Lake Country.

He thanked the public for donations of food and beverages that are showing up at West Kelowna fire halls but noted it is becoming overwhelming and unsafe, and encouraged people to show their gratitude by writing a card or posting to social media.

Capital News wanted to join in giving gratitude to firefighters, first responders, volunteers and all those who came together to keep the Okanagan strong. After asking the public to share thankful messages, more than 50 people responded in 24 hours.

Here are some of the shout-outs:

I’m a Quail Ridge resident. I predicted it would take at least a week before allowing back after the evacuation order issued on Aug. 18. You heroes shockingly surprised me. On Day 3, the order was downgraded and I was about to see my home standing there untouched! Words can’t express my gratitude towards the amazing work you do!!! ~ Marriana, Kelowna

Our family moved to West Kelowna Estates/Rose Valley only 2 weeks prior to when the McDougall Creek Wildfire began. The beauty of the area and the kindness of the residents were a huge factor in this decision. And we knew that there would be the risk of wild fires. But we never expected this.

It is with the most deepest of heartfelt emotions I’d like to thank the 1st responders who have battled this tragedy. We all see the commitment and devotion the crews have in ensuring our communities are kept safe. Every one of you is a hero.

Id also like to add how the community - emergency support volunteers and staff, store and restaurant owners, and the residents at large have come together to support each other. Amazing, and a great confirmation that we chose the right place to call home. ~Grant, West Kelowna

I know many of you consider what you are doing is just “your job,” but to those of us who take comfort knowing that you are going above and beyond you are the true hero’s. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. From someone who has family and friends in the Interior. Again, thank you. ~ Gail, Sidney

Thank you for keeping my family safe. ~Gregg, Huntington Beach, California

Thank you to first responders- all of you are pretty special for what you have been doing over this past few days here in the Okanagan.

Thank you to all who took in those that were evacuated. Thank you for all those who prepared and made warm food for the first responders and those who delivered food to those in need. I fortunately was not evacuated but did not stop praying for you all and all other cities effected by the fires. God be with you all❤️❤️. ~ Liz, Kelowna

Hero’s all around. Thank you is never enough for the horrific work you had to do to save us, our home’s and city. Know how much love we hold in our hearts for each and everyone of you. If we had to go this again, I would not ask for any changes. You all preformed above and so far beyond. Always grateful for your service. ~ Jodie, Lake Country

To the courageous men and women who are fighting fires, I really appreciate all that you have done over the last week.

I truly appreciate that you are doing your best to put out the fire and that your safety is number one. Everyone has been safe. You are the heroes. Blessings to you all. ~ Kim, Nanaimo

They are daily heroes who will always go that extra mile for the rest of us!!! ~John, Mayne Island

You are doing a great job, each and every one. God bless you! Stay safe! ~ Manuela, Allersberg

As a widowed firefighters spouse I know how hard ems personal work. Thank you for your service. Hero’s of the community. ~ Barb, Kelowna

Responders are very special people that go above and beyond respecting, caring, and responding in times of critical need everywhere. We are extremely fortunate that they perform huge tasks to protect so many in times of need. Thank you fir all that you do to save many allowing them to move forward to more positive outcomes. ~ Elaine, Smithers

We are as many, evacuees from West Kelowna. It’s extremely hard to express ones gratitude and eternal thanks for all that these first responders have done for us all in the last 5 days or so. So many of them working till they drop and their performance is second to none as well as on top of all their emotions. I would also like to really thank all of the emergency service providers here in Vernon where we evacuated to. The staff and volunteers as well as all the contributors to make our lives comfortable while we remain evacuated is a real showing of compassion and kindness that makes you feel proud to be a Canadian and reside in BC. Our Fire Chiefs who speak on the daily televised briefings really show that there is an enormous amount of teamwork and also pride in what they do. All the teams from allover the Province as well as other Provinces and other countries have provided services for which we eternally thankful. Really all one can say to all is Thank You So Much For What You have Done. ~ Michael, Kelowna

Thank you so much for your tireless efforts keeping everyone safe and protected. ~Roberta, Peterborough

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Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

I graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. I also hold a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University. I was also a reporter for Castanet and CBC. I am a volunteer with Okanagan Humane Society.
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