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Cranbrook Salvation Army volunteers help feed firefighters in Kelowna

Three volunteers with Cranbrook’s Salvation Army have been stationed in Kelowna, serving meals to crews battling wildfires.

Retired Major with the Salvation Army, Ginny Kristensen went along with volunteer chef Stephen Brien. They were later joined by Stephen’s wife, Yvonne.

When they arrived, the Cranbrook volunteers were stationed at West Kelowna Fire Hall 34.

“While there, we were feeding them three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner to 40 to 60 people for each meal. So, up to about 200 meals a day, plus snacks,” said Kristensen.

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Activity has since died down at Fire Hall 34, so the volunteers are sending meals to crews fighting the White Rock Lake fire.

The fire, located at the north end of Okanagan Lake and west of Vernon, has grown to over 81,000 hectares in size.

The fire was first discovered on July 13th, and the BC Wildfire Service believes it was caused by a lightning strike.

Nearly 295 wildland firefighters, 103 structure protection personnel, 44 pieces of heavy equipment, 14 helicopters and nine danger tree assessors/fallers are responding to the blaze along with BC Wildfire Service Incident Management Team and additional support staff.

For the Salvation Army volunteers, their days started early to get firefighters fed before they went to work.

“When we were at the first fire hall, we were on-site by 5:30 in the morning, because breakfast was ready for quarter to seven. We were there until about 8 or 8:30 at night after we clean up,” explained Kristensen.

Kristensen, Stephen and Yvonne were not entirely alone in keeping crews fed.

“We worked together well, and we worked well with the firefighters and the local Salvation Army people because they sent out volunteers for every meal to help us out,” said Kristensen.

Food was supplied by different branches to keep their diets varied.

“All of the meats that we used, we brought them with us from Cranbrook. A lot of it had come from the Fernie branch. For some of the fresh vegetables and whatnot, the local corps here sourced out anything we needed that we didn’t have with us,” explained Kristensen.

The volunteers said working with the firefights has been a heartwarming experience.

“They have appreciated so much to the point that they arrived with a bouquet of flowers and a gift for us to say thank you,” said Kristensen. “Last night, some of them approached and said they wanted to make a donation, so I sent them to the local Salvation Army to make the donation locally.

Kristensen, Yvonne and Stephen Brien are expected to return to Cranbrook on Friday.

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