By Andrea Arnold, Associate Editor
Seeing the devastating fire rip across the mountains above McBride this last week has brought with it an exhausting range of emotions.
I was not in town as the notice to evacuate my home was issued. My boyfriend had anticipated the need and asked me for a list of important items that he and his kids could grab for me.
I provided him with the list. A surprisingly short list of the stuff that I thought of. I knew my animals would be taken care of. I thought of a few important documents and things like camera, truck and computer. There were a few other things I asked about but the call for evacuation came too quickly and there wasn’t time to grab it all.
But, when it came down to it, seeing footage of the blaze way too close to my house, and knowing there were homes the fire got even closer to, the stuff that got left behind didn’t matter. That doesn’t mean I was not an emotional unstable mess as I waited to hear any news. But it does mean that I learned what truly matters to me.
What mattered is that the people were out. That the people were safe. And most of all, that the people worked together for the safety of everyone. Personally, I received several messages from people who knew I was away asking if my animals were taken care of, and if there was anything they could get from the house.
Watching from afar, I was overwhelmed and filled with pride as I read stories of neighbours helping neighbours, and strangers helping strangers. I saw post after post on Facebook offering trucks, trailers, water tanks, and space in homes and fields for evacuees. Newly-established residents working alongside long-time residents in an effort to save the community. I also appreciate the people from other communities who offered help, came to help or provided members of their families to battle the blaze.
I know the fire departments worked endless exhausting hours to keep homes safe. I cannot express the gratitude I have that they were there. The firefighting community that came together to fight included volunteer members from Valemount, the Valemount Sprinkler Protection Unit and the Beaverly SPU from the Prince George area.
The wildfire fighters that were brought in, both air and ground crews, joined in the effort to bring the blazing beast under control.
I heard stories of food being delivered to those on the line, or being provided in town and residents helping each other by jumping to action with water sources following flare-ups on private properties.
In an effort to express his gratitude to the community for backing and supporting those responding to the fire, one local firefighter, one who is relatively new to town posted this: “It took the village to save the village,” and I could not agree more. In this case, the definition of village stretched way beyond any physical borders as people from different communities came together.
I’ve always believed the bond between McBride residents is unique and strong. In case of crisis that bond seems to strengthen, bringing the community even closer together.
It doesn’t feel like enough, but thank you everyone.