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Evacuees watch crews attempt to save their homes

An evacuee heads in to Mount Boucherie Secondary, where food, water and other supports are in place.
July 18, 2014 - 4:33 PM

WEST KELOWNA - Margaret Maljevac is living out of Rubbermaid bins and watching water bombers swirl above her home, hoping it will still be there when the evacuation order is lifted.

Maljevac is one of thousands of residents displaced by the Smith Creek wildfire in West Kelowna, now 400 hectares large and only 20 per cent contained.

“I think mostly what I’m really upset about is the foolishness of people, the people that are starting the fires, I think that’s what everyone is really ticked off about,” Maljevac says.

She was sitting with her dog on the steps outside the makeshift evacuation centre at Mount Boucherie Secondary when approached for an interview. She has a clear view of the fire scene; the thick smudge of smoke and the hovering aircrafts.

“It looks like every time they get a grip on it then it starts right back up again,” she says.

Wind gusts are forecast to reach as much as 40 km/h this evening.

Maljevac and her husband, son, cats and dogs are all staying with a friend for the time being. The animals are anxious, she says, as well as the humans.

“There’s nothing you can do,” Maljevac says. “You just have to go day by day and you pray for rain.”

Another evacuee, Casia Rynkowski is trying to stay optimistic, not just for herself, but for her husband, her sons and her animals, all of whom are staying with her mom, who isn’t much further from the fire and is on evacuation alert. If she gets evacuated too, the Rynkowskis plan to stay with other family or friends.

She had about an hour to pack up what her family needed, knowing she wouldn’t be allowed back until the evacuation order was lifted.

“I called my kids and said if there’s one thing in the house that’s really important to you that I forgot to pack what would it be? My 11-year-old said make sure you grab my scooter and my laptop, and my 7-year-old said ‘Where’s my iPod charger, make sure you don’t forget that.’ I can see where their priorities are,” Rynkowski says with a laugh.

She packed more practical things — their passports, house insurance and other documents — as well as irreplaceable items like photos and baby stuff.

“At the end of the day, as long as you’re safe and have a place to stay, you’ve just got to go with it and help each other,” she says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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