A few local children were able to meet some firefighters on Saturday after making posters for them.
The kids were thrilled to meet the firefighters, who in turn were very gracious and appreciative. Firefighter Nick Christian, from Nelson, said they really appreciated the home-made posters, which were at their campsite at Angus MacDonald Park. He said it made it much easier to get up and fight the fires.
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said. “The community support has been huge. It’s been really nice knowing the whole town is behind you when you’re doing something that’s a hard job.”
Christian came to B.C. from Ontario 10 years ago and has been firefighting for the last two years with Nelson-based Panorama Crew Services. They come from all over B.C. and are currently battling the Lynch Creek wildfire, 25 kilometres north of Grand Forks.
“I worked for a ski resort company that was doing trail crew and initial attack for fires that happened on the resort property,” said Christian. “That kind of sparked my interest. I moved to Nelson and found out there was a contract crew and hopped on that. It’s been a great two seasons.”
Christian said he works with a five-man crew and they are sent to different marshalling points at wildfires throughout the province. Before coming to Grand Forks, the crew was in High Level, Alta. fighting a wildfire there. He said they stay in camps or in motels, depending on the area.
“Lots of overnight camping if you can’t get a flight back to town so we always prepare for that,” he said. “Sometimes you have to camp on the fire lines and sometimes in town. It just depends on the situation.”
He said they have seen good progress in their time at Lynch Creek. “It’s going good for sure,” he said. “Every day it’s a huge group effort. Every day we’re getting it done. It’s been positive results each day.”
Christian said the smoke did make it difficult for crews to get information from the sky since the helicopters were unable to fly. He did add that the wind is tough because it blows the fire around but it’s good that it blew the smoke away from town.
“On the fire side, it moves things around and changes the game plan of what you’re trying to do,” he said.
Christian said the support in Grand Forks has been very much appreciated by the firefighters. Christian and his crew mates were able to find time Saturday night to meet up with the children at Angus MacDonald, their former camping spot.
“It was definitely a surprise to see all those cards,” he said. “It made it really easy to do something like this. This is the first time I’ve had something like this in some place I’ve camped—to get that visible support.”
Bethany Sue Thate’s two boys Willson and Sebastian were both very excited to see the firefighters. Both boys were happy to make posters for the firefighters. Their father is a volunteer firefighter in Grand Forks so they do have first hand experience.
“The boys were so excited,” said Bethany Sue. “Willson’s life is firefighting. He has worn his fire gear since he was two. He even wears it to church. The boys made pictures for the firefighters because we saw it on Facebook and they love to draw. They watch for the fire trucks and always ask to drive by the hall.”
Although Sebastian was too shy to be in the picture, they both gave the firefighters big hugs before they departed.
Six-year-old Brooklynn Sterling was another local child who was thrilled to meet the firefighters. She also enjoys colouring and wanted to make pictures for the firefighters.
“It was fun and exciting to meet the firefighters,” she said. “I’m very thankful because they keep us safe.”
Brooklynn and her friends were glad to be outside on Saturday when the smoke finally began to clear in Grand Forks. “The smoke was bad and yucky,” she said. “I was stuck inside. The smoke was creepy and made me feel like I was going to be stuck inside forever.”
Although she finds the wildfires scary, Brooklynn feels much safer knowing the firefighters are protecting us.