Horgan, Conroy tour firefighter camp in Vernon

Minister defends fire job

Premier John Horgan and Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy paid a visit to the firefighter camp at Vernon's Kin Race Track on Thursday evening.

Horgan met privately with BC Wildfire crews while Conroy spoke to media outside of the camp.

Conroy said she gets briefed on the White Rock Lake fire every morning.

While many residents criticized the initial attack of the White Rock Lake wildfire, Conroy defended the response.

“The reality is [crews] were there within 30 minutes of it starting, they started the attack right away, but once they got into it, like it started so quickly and spread so quickly that they recognized that what they need to do right away was not fight the fire but actually save peoples lives, so they had to go into evacuation mode they had to make sure that people were getting out and that people were safe,” said Conroy.

Conroy said next year could be another difficult fire season due to drought and residents need to look at making their communities and homes FireSmart.

The minister was impressed with the outpouring of support that Vernon residents have shown the fire crews as they cheer them on while they drive in and out of the camp.

“It's made such a difference for the morale for the firefighters they’re coming in everyday and seeing this and hearing it, it is huge, it makes such a difference, it's heartwarming,” said Conroy.

“It’s a tough job, they [firefighters] are out there long hours, some of them 12 to 14 hours and they come back here, eat, shower, go to bed and get up to do it again... it is so great to see this, it warms my heart.... Vernon’s community spirit is incredible.”

Vernon residents Mackenzie and Theresa Rawlins made red and blue ribbon pins to give out to fire crews at the camp, and Mackenzie pinned one on Conroy before she left.

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