In A Pickle  

Hard decisions made in the face of an oncoming wildfire

To flee or not to flee?

I was terrified, feeling like a sitting duck when the authorities shut down the highways.

On Aug. 18, we stayed glued to CBC radio, listening for updates and instructions, all-the-while taking turns looking at the surreal scene of a flaming sky. The fire was close, only a mile away, and ashes landed on our doorstep.

A retired firefighter told us to remove any welcome mats by the doors and our patio furniture, as those items would block the exits if ignited. Good advice, as the embers may have set those things ablaze.

A wildfire can spread 10 miles per hour or more, depending on the wind conditions and type of fuel it’s burning. The Glenmore landfill was on fire, and it spewed toxic smoke into the air, adding to the danger.

On the Saturday morning, I learned one of our relatives and her firefighter boyfriend lost their house. She was distraught and her partner had to carry on, working some 36 hours straight. She worried for him and mourned their loss. The home they recently shared was now rubble.

The resident firefighters' dedication to the community was admirable. They fought to save other people’s homes as 13 of their own places burned. It's difficult for me to fathom the horror they and others faced with nothing left. Some Kelownians had no insurance and fled only in the clothes they wore.

I could barely hold it together. The idea of breaching the barricades crossed my mind. While a few people actually did so. The front-line workers endured verbal abuse while performing their duties and some equipment went missing. The reprehensible act of thievery floored me, and if caught, I think they should do life in prison for their malicious behaviour. People's true nature comes out in catastrophes like this.

During the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre “Twin Towers” in New York City in 2001, an employee announced on the PA system her coworkers could stay or go. Many people returned to their workstations and died. Similar situations happened in other calamities. Sometimes we should follow our instincts instead of waiting for orders or approval. I tried my best not to panic as I packed up crucial documents and photographs.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my sister, Pat Anderson, left her Sorrento residence for Calgary and stopped at a parking lot in Salmon Arm to sleep in her car. Her husband, Kent, and a former firefighter stayed briefly to set up sprinkler hoses around the area. It saved all the structures.

My response to the imminent danger was to run, but my husband remained calm. The fight or flight mode kicks in, depending on the type of goliath I’m facing. Thankfully, we’d made plans to leave on holiday long before the wildfire.

My husband and I, accompanied by a friend, left for a church camp meeting in the Cariboo on Aug. 20. We brought our camping gear in both vehicles, together with some evacuation supplies, keepsakes and important papers. The police stopped motorists from entering Kelowna, not exiting. Perfect timing to get away and forget our troubles.

We enjoyed several days of sunshine, mostly clear skies and refreshing rain. The international Christian speakers were inspirational, providing hope for a better future “as this world waxes old like a garment.” (Isaiah 51:6).

Many Christians view the world's climate change and disasters as labour pains for the planet. All these happenings will intensify, causing the inhabitants to witness a time of trouble that they have never experienced before. Christ's return will end this calamity. A new earth will be birthed.

(Revelation 1:7, Contemporary English Version)

“Look! He is coming with the clouds. Everyone will see him, even the ones who stuck a sword through him. Everyone on earth will weep because of him.” Yes, it will happen! Amen.

I joyfully expect His return. How about you?

If you’d like to share your experience with me, please write to me at [email protected]

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel writes about the humour in every-day life, and gets much of her inspiration from the late Erma Bombeck’s writing style. 

Doreen also has a serious side, shares her views on current events, human-interest stories and sometimes the downright bizarre. 

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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