Evacuation centre volunteers Murray and Debra Roed stand outside of their home on Silver Place last year. Their home was destroyed by wildfire in 2003. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Resident remembers 2003 firestorm after fire starts near Kelowna

Debra Roed’s home was destroyed in the 2003 wildfire in Okanagan Mountain Park

For Debra Roed, the sight of smoke billowing out of Okanagan Mountain Park brings back memories.

Roed’s home was one of 450 homes destroyed in the 2003 firestorm that was sparked by lightning in Okanagan Mountain Park 15 years ago.

“It was scary again,” she said. “It all came back to me.”

She lived in Crawford Estates, with her husband Murray and their two young daughters, who were nine and 12 at the time.

Roed said she’s been receiving calls from friends who were under evacuation alert, asking her what to pack and what to do.

The couple was down on the coast when the wildfire sparked in the park again this year, but she said it brought back almost a PTSD-like effect of what happened during that week in 2003.

She said it seemed like the fire in 2003 was far away from their home, but before they knew it, they were packing their bags and cramming everything into two vehicles, as an evacuation order came when they were visiting friends.

Roed’s advice is to pack the essentials, ID, passports, wedding certificate, and insurance papers.

Now they live on Silver Place in Kelowna, Roed said its good to be prepared, as fire can spread anywhere in the city.

Last year, Roed and her husband volunteered at the Willow Park Church evacuation centre, helping residents who were evacuated from their homes in Joe Rich.

She said she would volunteer again, if the centres were set up.

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carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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