Okanagan firefighter lost home to White Rock Lake wildfire | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan firefighter lost home to White Rock Lake wildfire

Thomas Matthews is seen in a photo posted to an online fundraiser.
Image Credit: GOFUNDME
August 19, 2021 - 10:13 AM

An Okanagan Indian Band volunteer firefighter lost his home in the White Rock Lake wildfire earlier this week.

Thomas Matthews lost his house on Six Mile Creek Road, his vehicle and his possessions while he was battling the White Rock Lake wildfire, his brother Shaun Matthews said.

“He’s still doing what he can for everyone else,” Shaun said, adding his brother is still working despite losing everything. “He’s got a dog and he’s got a cat and he’s living in a tent (in Vernon)."

READ MORE: Emergency officials say 70 structures destroyed on west side of Okanagan Lake

“He stayed behind and tried to save his property. I guess where the fire line was they were fighting it, but then they had to leave,” his wife Kathy Matthews said.

“We lost some well loved structures, but we saved a hell of a lot more. One of our firefighters lost their home, as he was saving many other homes,” the OKIB fire department posted to Facebook on Aug. 15.

“These guys are burning out,” Shaun said, adding he’s frustrated he hasn’t seen more support for firefighters from the Canadian Armed Forces.

His sisters have set up a GoFundMe with a goal of raising $40,000 for the firefighter, who is also a paramedic.

His sister Maria Matthews said Thomas had fire insurance but it expired and he couldn't renew it due to the White Rock Lake wildfire.

The 81,139 hectare fire burning between Vernon and Kamloops has destroyed multiple properties in the Monte Lake area and roughly 70 properties have been damaged in the Ewings Landing and Killiney, according to the Regional District of Central Okanagan.

— This story was updated at 34:29 p.m. Aug. 19, 2021 to include a comment on insurance from Maria Matthews.

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