Parrot Island recovers from fire threat

The birds of Parrot Island are recuperating after a stressful last few days when flames encroached upon their dwelling.

Rosco

Rosco

The birds of Parrot Island are recuperating after a stressful last few days when flames encroached upon their dwelling.

Ray Parkes, owner of the exotic bird sanctuary, said events unfolded quickly Sunday night.

“We were in the house and my wife said she thought she could smell smoke,” said Parkes.

“I looked out the window and saw the smoke, so I drove down to Star Place and there was a policeman already there. I said, ‘Is it going to be bad?’ He said, ‘I think so.'”

Parkes headed back to Parrot Island. Family and friends helped he and his wife Valerie seal up the parrot house to prevent smoke from getting in.

“There was no time to get them out and with the amount of smoke that was around, it wouldn’t be good for them to come out and breathe in that smoke.”

Parkes said the parrot house is not surrounded by trees. It has a metal roof, metal sides and metal on the walls inside; therefore, he was optimistic that the fire wouldn’t get too close to the building.

As an extra precaution, he put a few sprinklers on to dampen the ground surrounding the building.

When Parkes was ordered to evacuate, he was upset and didn’t want to leave the previously abandoned exotic birds he had helped rescue.

He wasn’t the only one concerned about the situation.

Parrot Island was flooded with e-mails and phone calls from those concerned about the birds. Parkes said people from as far away as Calgary were offering their assistance.

“My wife and I were overwhelmed with the support.”

The evacuation order was reduced to an alert for Parrot Island Tuesday, so Parkes was permitted to come back and look after his birds.

The exotic bird sanctuary, located on MacKinnon Road, takes in abandoned parrots from throughout Canada and attempts to find them a home with a suitable owner.

According to Parkes, Parrot Island is not a profitable business. If it weren’t for donations, it would be difficult for he and his wife to keep the sanctuary running.

“Our mandate here at Parrot Island is to educate people, mostly children. These birds should be left in the wild where they’re supposed to be. If we can educate another generation‚Ķmaybe we can save some from becoming extinct.”

Parkes will reopen the sanctuary Friday. He kept it closed during the week to give the birds time to get back into their routines.

He said he’s very appreciative of the work done by crews battling the blaze.

“The RCMP, the firefighters and the pilots of the planes and helicopters did a marvelous job.”

Parkes said he plans to get rid of some of the trees on his property to create a fire break in case another blaze starts in his neighbourhood in the future.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

Kelowna Capital News