Marnie Endersby is so thankful to all the emergency responders working on the Grouse Complex in Central Okanagan, but there’s one unidentified firefighter she would like to thank personally.
The Endersby family self-evacuated on Aug. 17, after being advised to do so by friends who experienced the devastating Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016. After their two young kids were settled at her parents, Endersby and her husband went over to the base of Knox Mountain to watch the blaze.
After some time, she went back to her parents to check on the kids as her husband stayed to watch the fire. He saw the fire cross over Okanagan Lake and “he was praying to God asking please don’t let this fire take our home.”
Endersby was woken up that evening by a phone call from her husband saying they were about to lose their home, but the backyard security camera showed a much different story.
“There was just this one single angel firefighter there fighting it with my neighbour’s garden hose.”
Earlier that evening when checking the cameras, Endersby said two firetrucks and several ground personnel were around their property for structural protection. She doesn’t know why everyone left and a single firefighter stayed behind, but she is so grateful he did.
“It was very moving.”
The lone firefighter was there for over an hour battling flames right behind the house on Pettman Road. Through their backyard camera, the couple watched the firefighter handle a large flare-up of flames before things started to simmer down around 4 a.m. and they decided to get some sleep. Endersby was relieved to find the house still standing when she checked the cameras later that morning.
The family has since fled to Victoria where the air quality is better and they have friends to stay with.
When the fire has been fought and people start returning home, Endersby hopes to connect with the firefighter responsible for saving her and her neighbour’s homes.
“We want to meet him for sure,” she said, adding that she doesn’t know what she would say to him but she probably would cry. “We’ll have to think about what we’re going to do, but we’d like to bless him somehow.”
West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund who has been at the helm of the Grouse Complex blaze since it exploded on Aug.18, has been a resounding voice for the Okanagan community.
When asked if he knew who the “angel firefighter” might be, he responded he doesn’t want to single out any one firefighter, but the man who saved the Endersby’s home demonstrated “exactly what I already knew about him and that is how dedicated he is to protecting his community.”
Brolund noted that the firefighter was safe and had a small crew backing him up, who were in the area protecting neighbouring homes.
The Endersbys are just one of thousands of people evacuated across the Central Okanagan. More than 60 structures have been lost or damaged from the Grouse Complex.