Residents show their appreciation to firefighters as they stand with signs of love, some dressed up, on Old Kamloops Road as crews drive ‘home’ to the fire camp set up at the former Kin Race Track. (Amanda Quiring photo)

Residents show their appreciation to firefighters as they stand with signs of love, some dressed up, on Old Kamloops Road as crews drive ‘home’ to the fire camp set up at the former Kin Race Track. (Amanda Quiring photo)

Vernon-Monashee MLA extends gratitude to constituents in wildfire crisis

Harwinder Sandhu grateful, she said, for the community’s outpouring of care and support for each other

The North Okanagan’s representative in Victoria wants her riding to continue working together as wildfires rage in and around the region’s borders.

In a letter to constituents released Wednesday, Aug. 18, Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu said the White Rock Lake fire is “unrivalled by any other event in our region’s history.”

“We’ve seen how it has impacted our family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers,” wrote Sandhu. “People have had to leave their homes behind, many are dealing with loss, and uncertainty.

“I care deeply about the people who call this region home and the sadness, fear and concern that is gripping our communities right now. I recognize these emotions in myself, in my loved ones and my constituents.”

Despite all these challenges, people’s compassion, care and empathy is “shining through.”

“I’m so grateful to see how our community is coming together to look out for one another,” said Sandhu. “I want to thank all the hard-working firefighters, emergency service personnel and volunteers working around the clock to keep people safe. The logistics and planning that go into fighting a fire of this magnitude are great and I’m so grateful for the efforts of people across the province.”

And Harwinder obviously isn’t the only one who appreciates the efforts.

Residents have been posting signs around the fire camp where BC Wildfire Service crews are stationed and have even started a nightly cheering club.

Meeting in clusters at safe points along Old Kamloops Road and at the entrance gate to the firefighters’ camp (while being courteous with noise near the camp as night crews sleep during the day) people hold signs and dress up to cheer for the crews as they arrive/depart.

“We had 50 people at the corner of Old Kamloops Road/Goose Lake Road last night,” organizer Amanda Quiring said.

They meet at 6 p.m. to greet returning crews for about 90 mins, then fresh crews start heading out around 7:30/45. Quiring suggest morning residents could try the same thing in the a.m.

The waves, words of kindness, and even Minnie Mouse, are equally appreciated by the firefighters.

“As if their grins, honks, flashing lights, sirens, hang-tens, waves, blown kisses, and filming us weren’t clear enough, a firefighter pulled over last night to thank us all for cheering and let us know it matters deeply to the crews; said they’d all pull over to thank us if they could,” Quiring said. “He explained that they work long, hard days, and his voice broke as he said coming back to cheering is emotional for all of them.”

Anyone is welcome to join the cheering squad, but is suggested to bring some tissues.

The White Rock Lake wildfire is listed at an estimated 81,000-plus hectares in size.

READ MORE: Central Okanagan regional district directors express sorrow over wildfire losses

READ MORE: City of Armstrong rescinds evacuation alert



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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B.C. Wildfires 2021Provincial Government

 

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu expressed her gratitude to her riding constituents for the empathy, care and compassion they’ve shown one another during the Whitle Rock Lake wildfire event. (Contributed)

Vernon-Monashee NDP MLA Harwinder Sandhu expressed her gratitude to her riding constituents for the empathy, care and compassion they’ve shown one another during the Whitle Rock Lake wildfire event. (Contributed)