Family thanks Central Saanich firefighters for saving Kelowna home


After fleeing their Kelowna home due to the wildfire, a family says they are grateful for the work of crews working to battle the blaze, and in particular to the Central Saanich Fire Department.

Malindi Elmore shared on Instagram her family’s story of evacuating their homes, starting with coming back home on Aug. 17 and putting their kids to bed, with no idea of what was to come next.

“We tucked the kids into bed, assuring them that the massive Lake Okanagan would protect them but that we would pray for people in West Kelowna,” the post says.

“Suddenly, fire crested the ridge and raced towards town in WK…It was so so windy and so so hot – the most terrible conditions for a raging fire. I knew I would not sleep but had no idea we would be racing away from the fire in short order.”

The family needed to evacuate their home as the McDougall Creek wildfire had spread to their neighbourhood, so her family packed up what they could then headed out.

“As we jumped into the car we were absolutely shocked to see, only 500m from our house, that our hillside was on fire,” Elmore’s Instagram post says.

“The next two days were agony as not only our neighbourhood was under siege – the fire was decimating West Kelowna and spreading North through Kelowna and Lake Country. We were surrounded and so so worried about everyone, the people, pets, structures, wild life, infrastructure and long term damage to the City. There were a lot of tears.”

Then the evening of Aug. 18, the family’s security camera caught the fire across the street from their home, and firefighters arrived and battled the fire.

“Our webcams showed heroic efforts saving our homes from encroaching flames (video is chilling),” the post says. “Fire crews from around BC came to our aid, offering their services. Thank you to the heroes who saved so much of our community, and condolences to those who lost their homes.”

And in front of their home during the firefighting was a Central Saanich fire truck.

RELATED: Island fire departments send crews to Kelowna to help battle wildfire

So the family, who is now staying on the South Island, dropped by the fire department to say thanks.

“On Friday, we sent a crew to West Kelowna on a moment’s notice on the one o’clock ferry, they were put to work right away and ended up saving three homes is what they reported to us and you see the videos over the weekend,” Central Saanich Fire Chief Kenn Mount said to CHEK News.

“And all of a sudden you piece it together on Monday, that family that’s coming to visit you is one of the homes that was saved. So it’s a good story amongst all the kinds of devastation and destruction we’re having. It’s nice to have some good news for a change for sure.”

RELATED: Almost 60 buildings lost to wildfire in Kelowna, B.C., area, fire chiefs say

Central Saanich sent four people and one engine to Kelowna who will be there for 14 days. At the end of that time, the department has plans to send a replacement crew if needed.

“My crews are missing time off work, left some family vacation plans, and they’re dedicating their time putting themselves at risk,” Mount said.

“To hear that the efforts are actually paying off and the grateful appreciation that another community gives back to our department for taking that risk of sending resources out of our community and it does pay off and it makes us feel good about those decisions that we make.”

Mount says Elmore’s family brought drawings from the kids and lunch for the firefighters as a sign of thanks.

“My deputy chief has been in direct contact with [the crew in Kelowna] today they’re aware that we had visitors today and then we received the benefits of the lunch for their hard work,” Mount joked, saying the thanks will be paid forward when the crew returns.

“They should be feeling good about the work they’ve done. We’re all a humble bunch we do this because this is a job that we signed up to do and we love the work and we don’t consider ourselves really heroes we’re just doing the work that we want to do and it’s part of our passion.”


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A post shared by Malindi Elmore (@malindielmore)

WATCH: Rob Shaw: Municipal firefighters from Island help save Kelowna homes

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