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Kudos to all the wildfire heroes: Vernon-Monashee MLA

Harwinder Sandhu thanks all those involved, from the frontline firefighters, to those making donations

Harwinder Sandhu

MLA for Vernon-Monashee

This summer, wildfires have challenged people and communities across B.C. – and across North America. And we know that the challenges are not over as our fire season continues.

Keeping us safe from wildfires, and supporting those who have had to evacuate, is an immense task.

To those who are on the frontlines, we thank you for your dedication, bravery, and teamwork.

The loss of two firefighters this year – Devyn Gale and Zak Muise – reminds us that fire crews are putting their lives on the line.

Our thoughts and hearts are with their families, communities, and colleagues.

B.C. has been fortunate to have crews helping us from Ontario, eastern Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Brazil and Costa Rica. Leaving your home and flying to a new place to take on a dangerous job takes incredible courage, and we are so grateful for their work.

Off of the frontlines, there are thousands of dedicated people working behind the scenes. This includes forecasting weather and fire risks, coordinating the movement of crews and supplies, and communicating key information to help people prepare.

Local governments and First Nations are also playing a huge role, especially when it comes to keeping people informed about evacuation alerts and orders.

Thousands of volunteers have answered the call to welcome those who have been evacuated. They are doing everything from coordinating food, places to stay, and clothing, to providing emotional support and a listening ear.

And finally, I want to thank all British Columbians who have taken the time to prepare emergency kits in advance, and those who have evacuated when requested to do so. This helps to keep firefighters and other emergency personnel safe, and helps reduce pressure on reception centres and host communities.

If you’re in a region that is experiencing fires, here is what you can do to be prepared:

• Pack an emergency kit and grab and go bag, with everything your family would need to take in an emergency. Don’t forget food and supplies for your pets, too.

• Make a plan, and contact friends and family who might be able to host you.

• Check in with your neighbours, especially if they are older or medically vulnerable. Offer to help them with preparing or contacting loved ones.

• If your community isn’t at immediate risk, consider volunteering to help support evacuees or collecting donations of needed supplies.

• Follow @EmergencyInfoBC and your local government or First Nation on social media to make sure you get the latest info in an emergency.

British Columbians stand together in hard times, and I know that we will support each other through this challenge too.

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