Local firefighter returns from Christie Mtn. fire to find truck stolen

Firefighter has truck stolen

After spending last week battling the Christie Mountain wildfire in hot, windy conditions, a BC Wildfire Service firefighter returned to Merritt to find his truck – his home for the summer – stolen.

Connor Callaghan is from Kelowna, but he's been stationed with the BC Wildfire Service in Merritt since May, living out of his 2003 Toyota Tundra. It's his second season with the wildland firefighting organization, before he returns to UBC Okanagan in September to complete his last year of his mechanical engineering degree.

While it's been a relatively slow summer for BC Wildfire Service firefighters, Callaghan and his crew jumped into action last Tuesday, when the Christie Mountain wildfire picked up steam just south of Penticton.

“We got there at 4 p.m. and worked until 9 the next morning,” he said. “We were the first crew on the fire on Tuesday night and that was a long night. We did some burn operations as it was coming towards some houses there.”

Callaghan pulled another long night shift Thursday, working from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Friday, before he was driven back to his base in Merritt, as his contract with the BC Wildfire Service was completed.

“I got back and my truck wasn't where I parked it,” he said. “I was living in that truck for the summer so it had all my belongings in it, my laptop and iPad and stuff for school.

“It's a bit of a gut punch to come home to.”

He used the Find My iPhone app, which showed his iPad was in Mission, B.C. on Friday at 3:45 p.m., but that's the last clue he has about its whereabouts.

The truck was purchased new by Callaghan's father back in 2003, before Callaghan bought it in 2017. Between the two of them, they had put 670,000 kilometres on the truck.

“He'd done a lot to it and I've taken care of it,” he said. “Lots of road trips and things like that ... I'm pretty bummed.”

Callaghan starts school in two weeks, so he was forced to purchase a new laptop Friday night in preparation for the school year. A school year that will no doubt come with other challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RCMP is aware of the theft, and police are keeping an eye out for it. Anyone who spots the navy blue truck, with a canopy and Thule bike rack, can report it to police. The truck does not currently have the rooftop ski box that's shown in the photos. 

While Callaghan's firefighting season is over, 200 BC Wildfire Service firefighters remain on the blaze Saturday.

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