Vernon residents have been doing their best night after night to show appreciation for the men and women fighting wildfires that have ravaged the area.
For weeks they’ve lined the road to the BC Wildfire base camp and offered up expressions of gratitude.
Last night, as infernos turned to smouldering hot spots and firefighters got closer to packing up to go home, the celebration got a bit brighter.
Participants to the regular event dressed up in cheerful costumes, brought some signs and cheered a little louder.
“They were amazing, (I’m) just filled with gratitude,” said Dean Broughton, a Killiney Beach resident who just was able to return this week.
“It’s amazing our house survived. My neighbour lost everything, he had old saddles … it was heartbreaking. We are here to support the (people) who saved our house.”
For Amanda Quiring, just being on alert for 24 hours was eye-opening and she’s regularly been cheering on firefighters and being present for evacuees who couldn’t be there themselves.
“For us, there was a lot of negativity toward the management of the fire and we saw firefighters being caught in the crossfire of that and we just wanted to support them and boost morale for them,” she said.
Some BC Wildfire officials were at the Halloween-themed celebration, too.
They handed out frisbees and interacted with the kids and adults who had gathered for one of the lighter days of the last few months.
Wildfire employees said this kind of celebration is heartwarming for them, too.
BC Wildfire said the White Rock Lake fire continues to burn deep underground as a result of severe drought conditions throughout much of the fire perimeter.
Given the extent and intensity of this wildfire, residual hot spots and smoke well within the fire’s perimeter will continue to be highly visible over the coming weeks.
“All perimeters of the fire continue to be actively monitored or patrolled by wildfire management staff. Hot spots are being identified using thermal imaging technology and all hot spots within 100 feet of the fire perimeter will continue to be extinguished by ground personnel,” BC Wildfire said.
“Smoking stumps and roots within the secured fire perimeter pose no risk of fire spread and will continue to burn into the winter. Although smoke will continue to be visible, there is no threat of further spread.”