A fire can destroy many things – but not spirit

“William and I are still here and the property is still there and Allison Creek is still running through it.”

The first person registered at the Princeton evacuee centre last Friday night was also the first person to lose her home to the out-of-control blaze.

Laila Bird, 81-years-old and a well-known local volunteer and personality, learned Tuesday morning that her home on Highway 5A had been severely damaged by the fire.

She was not informed through official channels, but saw a picture of her house on a neighbour’s phone, showing a caved in roof.

RDOS has confirmed damage to two houses.

The colorful and vibrant president of the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary seemed equal parts shaken and resolute after receiving the news.

She agreed to an interview with The Spotlight on the condition that “no one feels sorry for me. I will take support and friendship, though..and please make the story funny.”

Bird has been staying at a motel since she and her son William were hustled from their home Friday, shortly after the fire started.

She admitted to being a reluctant evacuee, and received several visits from Fortis BC and RCMP before packing up her dog, and her dog’s belongings, and driving to town.

She finally fled when an RCMP officer parked in her driveway and indicated he wasn’t leaving until she did.

“Well, when you are under attack, you want to attack back. I chose to do that with a sprinkler.”

Well-known for her wisdom and sense of humor, Bird remarked: “It’s very inconvenient to find a forest fire on your back steps. It’s a damned nuisance.”

(In a previous conversation with The Spotlight that was the same way she described having cancer.)

When asked to recall the possessions she grieved for most, she was at first stumped, then recollections came to her in starts.

The tomato plants and green peppers.

“Well, they’re gone.”

A pith helmet, a gift from many years ago.

“That might survive, pith helmets are quite strong you know.”

She escaped with no clothes, and explained she had just hung the laundry out when she was served with the evacuation order.

“It’s probably dry now, do you think?”

Personal photos and records are presumably lost, and she shrugged her shoulders.

She did regret, she admitted, forgetting to grab the batteries to her hearing aid.

“On the bright side, I am going to get a whole new wardrobe.”

When asked what she needs most now she answered: “A teapot, and toe nail clippers. I had a really wonderful pair of toenail clippers.”

Bird is unsure what she will do next, but she is relieved her home was insured, and she promised to rebuild.

“It is hard. It is stressful. But William and I are still here and the property is still there and Allison Creek is still running through it.

“People go through things. And they get over them. And we will too.”

Just Posted

RCMP seek missing man

Blake Doyle was last seen Dec. 2

Site C dam goes ahead, cost up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark gave him no choice

SilverStar shines

Vernon’s mountain resort lights up for Christmas

Vipers snap Vees’ unbeaten run at 13

Vernon hands Penticton first shutout loss of the season, 4-0 at home Saturday

Holiday bears off to new homes

Annual Morning Star December giveaway draws crowd on cold Saturday morning

Knights score for charity

VIDEO: North Okanagan hockey game sees fur flying in Armstrong

Red Scorpion associates cuffed in drug-trafficking bust

Kamloops RCMP lay charges in connection to Red Scorpion drug trafficking ring

Vernon workshop spreads Christmas cheer

Children’s Christmas Workshop enables kids to feel the joy of giving

Merry lottery win for Shuswap man

Five-dollar scratch ticket a $100,000 winner for Sicamous resident

Woman sought in Kamloops stabbing

Kamloops RCMP are looking for the woman they believed stabbed a man on Sunday

Emergency response ‘well executed’ in B.C. carbon monoxide poisoning

Emergency Health Services talks about how first responders dealt with this ‘mass casualty event’

Update: Dog inside stolen vehicle in Oliver reunited with owner

A black Honda CRV was stolen from the Oliver Chevron early Sunday morning

WestJet Christmas video turns children’s wishes into reality

This year’s annual video took a new spin on the 12 days of Christmas

Firefighters protect seaside California towns as blaze rages

A flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday

Most Read