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Community gathers to share stories about 2003 firestorm

Image Credit: Government of B.C.
September 06, 2013 - 10:39 AM

KELOWNA - Do you remember where you were when B.C.'s worst wildfire tore through the Okanagan?

Along with the ruin the 2003 Okanagan Mountain Park fire left many with vivid memories of the disaster and tonight some of those stories will resurface at a gathering at the Laurel Packinghouse. Hosted by Kelowna Museums, Smoking Embers: An Evening of Sharing invites people of all ages to talk about their individual experiences - or just listen in.

Museum program coordinator Christina Neale says it's the first and only event they're hosting to coincide with the end of the fire this time ten years ago.

"Ten years on it's our mission to preserve history for future generations," Neale says and there are many stories still to be told.

Aside from newspaper archives Neale says the museum was looking for an opportunity for the community to chat about the disaster, which is still very much part of people's vernacular.

Neale says while many lost their homes in 2003, those who didn't may have felt survivor's guilt and so are less vocal about their experiences. It's not a celebration or commemoration, Neale says.

"It's to show how we've grown since then and how we are better prepared to deal with fires today."

Speakers from the Firefighters' Charity, Red Cross, Salvation Army and Fire Prevention will also join the discussion. The owner of St. Hubertus Winery, who lost his vineyards in the fire will also attend, offering samples of his Fireman's Red wine.

For those who missed the August premiere at the Paramount Theatre, you can catch scenes from the 10th anniversary documentary Firestorm: Out of the Ashes.

The event goes from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Laurel Packinghouse located at 1304 Ellis Street at Cawston Avenue.  

Anyone interested in telling their stories can be added to the speakers list by contacting Christina Neale at 778-478-9767 or

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250)718-0428.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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