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‘It just keeps us going’: B.C. firefighters grateful to Salvation Army for its support

Click to play video: 'Salvation Army feeds firefighters' Salvation Army feeds firefighters
Salvation Army feeds firefighters – Aug 20, 2021

The garage at the firehall in West Kelowna’s Glenrosa neighbourhood has been temporarily converted into a dining space.

That’s where the dozens of firefighters working on the Mount Law wildfire eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The meals are prepared and served by the Salvation Army and its volunteers.

“We’ve been feeding them three meals a day,” said Westside Salvation Army Lt. Jennifer Henson. “We’ve made sure to have snacks available 24/7 because that’s when the crews are working, 24/7, taking care of the community.”

The organization has been serving anywhere from 150 to 200 meals a day.

Read more: ‘There could have been more done’: Debate over B.C. wildfire response heats up after document leaked

The food is cooked in a mobile kitchen.

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The vehicle has travelled to West Kelowna from the Salvation Army in Cranbrook.

“It’s such a great network organization,” said Henson. “We don’t physically have a truck on the west side. Kelowna does and that truck is active in service right now. Vernon does and that truck is in active service right now too. We don’t have a truck here so than our headquarters sent in a truck from Cranbrook.”

Stephan Brien is a volunteer with the Cranbrook Salvation Army.

He said feeding the men and women fighting the flames is a humbling experience.

“They’re pretty amazing people to come and put their lives at risk to come and do what they’re doing,” he told Global News. “I’m cooking. It’s in the kitchen. It’s easy, right? It’s easy for me. I just get the food and they go out and do the hard stuff.”

There are dozens of firefighters assigned to the fire, including many from outside of the region.

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B.C. wildfire update: 1,528 fires so far this season – Aug 19, 2021

Marty Butts and eight of his colleagues have come from Sundre, Alta., after getting a call from the B.C. Wildfire Service requesting help.

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“They gave us a call and the guys were anxious to go at a moment’s notice. We got on the road as quick as we could,” he said.

“We’re happy to help because it doesn’t matter what we’re doing as long as we’re doing some good.”

Butts also expressed gratitude to the Salvation Army for feeding and nourishing the firefighters on the front lines.

“These ladies and gentlemen doing this for us, it just keeps us going,” Butts said.

“It’s long, hard days and these guys are phenomenal and without them we couldn’t keep doing what we’re doing.”

Read more: Fundraiser organized for West Kelowna woman who lost home to Mount Law wildfire

It’s a sentiment echoed by West Kelowna’s fire chief.

“They say an army march is on his stomach and in the case of our firefighters we have been so well taken care of in terms of the meals that this team has been providing us,” said West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund.

The Mt. Law fire remains very active and highly visible on the southern slope, the Okanagan Connector and Peachland.

Brolund said it may stay that way for a while yet.

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“People will continue to see it there for potentially weeks to come because of the train and the inaccessibility of where it lies but we are aware of it it,” Brolund said.

“We encourage people, if you see fire near a structure or threatening a structure, they should call 911 to report it to us but the fire burning up in the hill, we know about it. We are here around the clock with our eyes on it as well.”

The Salvation Army will remain on scene to support the firefighters as long as needed, providing not only food but moral support as well.

“I think it’s really important in times like this that the community knows we’re there for each other,” Henson said.

“I think it’s times like this that we can really be strengthened as a community, when we know we’ve got each other’s backs.”

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