Washington family gets to personally thank Penticton pilot who saved home - InfoNews

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Washington family gets to personally thank Penticton pilot who saved home

A Canadian based air tanker drops retardant on the property of Boddy and Cindy Poirer near Curlew, Washington, on Sept. 8, 2020
Image Credit: Facebook / Cindy Poirer
September 15, 2020 - 7:00 AM

A Washington State couple whose home was saved from wildfire flames licking just metres from their front door got an opportunity over the weekend to personally thank the Penticton pilot and air crew who saved it.

Cindy and Boddy Poirer had to flee their property when the Customs Road wildfire threatened their cabin near Curlew, Washington last week.

With the fire just a few metres from their front door, a Canadian-based air tanker suddenly arrived on scene, laying retardant lines around the structure and saving virtually everything the Poirers owned.

READ MORE: Canadian wildfire attack south of the border has Washington family in tears

Body says he and Cindy were able to contact Captain Neal Fix, a pilot with Air Spray air tankers out of Red Deer, Alberta, over the weekend via Facebook Messenger.

“What a great guy. He said he was happy he was able to do something, and glad we were safe,” Boddy says.

He said Fix basically “boxed in” their residence with lines of retardant, showing up when flames were “ten feet from our cabin.”

Airspray Airtanker Captain Neal Fix went to high school in Penticton.
Airspray Airtanker Captain Neal Fix went to high school in Penticton.
Image Credit: Facebook / Neal Fix

“That yellow-nosed plane, number 489 – came out of nowhere, put out the fire around our cabin and we never saw him again that day. It was like he went home, at least that’s what it seemed like to us,” Boddy says, adding he had been on his property fighting the fire until moments before Fix’s arrival.

“He’s very humble. I told him he was our hero, an angel from above. He just said thanks,” Boddy says.

Boddy isn’t aware of any of his neighbour’s residences who were saved in as dramatic fashion. He says he’s also reached out to Fix’s flight crew, co-captain Cristalle Fairbank.

Fix, who grew up in Penticton, has been flying for more than 36 years. He's based out of Castlegar with Air Spray Airtankers. He says the fire provided a good opportunity for some cross-border cooperation and sharing of resources.

“They’ve come over here to help us in the past, not recently, but some time back. They were here with planes to help us,” he says.

Dozens of fires broke out in Washington State last week, driven by high winds and scorching temperatures.

Last Tuesday, Sept. 8, Washington State commissioner of public lands Hilary Franz said nine large fires were burning in the state with 58 new ones reported in the last 24 hours.

Several of those fires, including the Cold Springs wildfire and Customs Road wildfire, are within an hour’s drive of Osoyoos.

The Cold Springs, Whitney and Pearl Hill wildfires have been devastating to Washington State ranchers.
The Cold Springs, Whitney and Pearl Hill wildfires have been devastating to Washington State ranchers.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED: Northwest Interagency Coordination Centre

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