When the McDougall Creek wildfire ripped through the westside of Okanagan Lake the Wilson’s Landing Fire Department was one of several halls that jumped into action.
The 24-team crew did their best to protect the community, but more than half of them lost their homes while protecting others.
During a press conference on Aug. 24, Wilson’s Landing Fire Chief Paul Zydowic said 13 of his firefighters had lost their houses to the McDougall Creek fire.
“Our community has suffered an incredible blow, yet from the very first spark you showed up and fought this fire while your own homes were burning behind you. I have no words to describe the pride that I feel to be part of this team,” he said at the time.
Zydowic also lost his home in the blaze.
The community has rallied behind these heroes who worked to save as many properties as possible while knowing they may have nothing to come back to when the flames died down.
A GoFundMe was started for the crew members who lost their homes to help them while insurance proceeds and more than $175,000 has been raised so far.
Other efforts have also been made, such as a special long weekend fundraiser by Big White Ski Resort.
Over the Labour Day weekend, $3,159 was raised in a gesture of gratitude and appreciation towards those who tirelessly battled the devastating wildfires.
“This special initiative was our way of giving back to the community and express our profound gratitude to the courageous firefighters and support teams working relentlessly to protect our communities during this challenging wildfire season,” said Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice president of Big White Ski Resort.
The Big White Fire Department was one of several that joined forces with firefighters from various fire departments across the province to combat the devastating fires in West Kelowna and Adams Lake.
“It was humbling, to say the least, to see those firefighters continue to work and give everything they could to continue to serve their community when 13 of them had already lost their own homes,” said Josh Foster, Big White Fire Chief.
Wilson’s Landing Fire Department Station 42 provides medical and fire suppression services for communities between Traders Cove and Shelter Cove along Westside Road, an area devastated by recent wildfires.
~With files from Gary Barnes