To all the Peachland Fire 2012 heroes. You are the embodiment of everything that "pennywise" stands for: especially family and community (one and the same) and good character. You are heroes.
Peachland Fire 2012 heroes:
The fire started quickly around 3 P.M. Sunday afternoon. We could see over the mountain across the highway as the first smoke appeared. It grew in volume so rapidly we were stunned into momentary inaction wondering what was happening. But others weren't. From start to finish, the people of Peachland, B.C. became heroes.
In no time at all, people were responding and alerting others. Soon sirens could be heard as emergency crews became activated. As the afternoon progressed, hundreds of people were quickly evacuated. Horse trailers could be seen as other horse owners in the vicinity rushed to help evacuate animals.
At one point as we approached the highway across the road from the IGA shopping centre only a spark or two or flame could be seen behind Peachland Elementary which is behind the mall. The wind was so strong fallen branches were strewn across the grassy park where we stood.
Within a very few minutes, it seemed almost instantly, the flames grew in strength and jumped the creek to head up to the Trepanier housing area. Bright flashes of flame multiplied and raced by leaps and bounds until they had almost reached the top of the hillside. The more flames, the more dense the smoke became.
Peachland Fire 2012 heroes:
Yet almost from the moment the fire leaped the creek, helicopters were buzzing from Okanagan Lake, flying into the smoke and dropping water before circling back to the lake for more. One after the other they flew, not far above us, as they circled back to the lake.
After we returned to the Lake, we could watch the helicopters loading with water from the lake, sometimes not many feet away from where my grandchildren (and hundreds of other beach goers) had been swimming and boating just days earlier. They were often so close we could feel the spray.
The helicopters picked up speed, circling ever closer to shore in smaller and smaller circles as they worked to accomplish as much as possible before night fall. One or two were always flying in as one or two left.
Peachland Fire 2012 heroes
A continuous stream of fire trucks and other emergency equipment were deployed up and over the hills into the fire zone guided by multiple RCMP and road crews directing traffic.
Standing safely on the road or at lakeside - not feeling at ease at all - only admiration could be felt for all those who worked so diligently and bravely to fight this fire. It's possible to pray for their safety and the safety of everyone who lived here, but it seems a small effort as you watch people risking their lives - and doing it hour after hour.
You are heroes.
Here are some photos taken during the wildfires in September, 2012 showing heroic action from firefighters and emergency crews. (Pictures to come)
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