A large plume of smoke coming from the White Rock Lake wildfire Friday, Aug. 6. (Matt Knox photo)

A large plume of smoke coming from the White Rock Lake wildfire Friday, Aug. 6. (Matt Knox photo)

‘It’s time to come together’: BC Wildfire Service incident commander pens heartfelt message

Kyle Young is a third generation wildland firefighter

A BC Wildfire Service (BCWS) incident commander wants people to come together and help each other get through what he calls “the most challenging summer.”

Kyle Young is a third generation wildland firefighter, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He’s been working in his current job for 16 years.

On Aug. 13 at about 7 p.m., he shared a written message on BCWS social media, noting a video would have been too emotional for him to make.

“The love I have for this job is what drives me every day, along with the support I receive from my family and co-workers,” he wrote.

“This season we have been tested and we have done everything possible to ensure people are safe.”

While he understands there are people who do not agree with him, he wants people to know he attests to the dedication of every single person who is employed fighting B.C.’s wildfires.

Young hasn’t seen his family since June 30 and said 2021 is different from previous years. He said BCWS isn’t able to get the support it usually would from other jurisdictions because of the immense fire danger across Canada and the United States.

“Then you throw a global pandemic on top of it, which has impacted how we are able to manage fires and the resources we have available to draw from. We show up to do our best but at the end of the day, we are humans and mother nature has the power,” Young wrote.

“Again, I understand not everyone is going to agree with this message and I get it, but please know that I am proud of the effort everyone in the organization, the contractors, partners, and anyone else supporting us are making.”

He said those fighting wildfires and their families sacrifice a lot for the job. At the end of each day, Young says he wonders if everyone is OK; those under his command, those fighting other wildfires, and anyone who is affected by the devastating wildfires.

“I wonder if I could have done something different, something better,” he said.

“I wonder what tomorrow will bring, will it rain, will I be able to see my family soon, or will I open social media and be inundated with posts from people who speculate on what we do, or worse, what they think we don’t do.”

Young said this wildfire season will pass, and there will be a time to reflect, learn, and make adjustments.

“Right now, it’s time for us, as a province, to come together and support each other. Help us, help your neighbors, help everyone get through the next six weeks of what has been the most challenging summer,” said Young.

“When you post something out of anger, frustration, fear, or heartbreak, there are other families out there feeling all those same things and reading your words that may be hurtful.”

On Twitter, Young’s message was greeted with an outpouring of support.

Read more: UPDATE: Evacuation order rescinded for 246 Monte Lake, Paxton Valley properties, alert issued


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B.C. Wildfires 2021