Former Liberal MP for Kelowna - Lake Country Stephen Fuhr lost everything at his West Kelowna property when the McDougall Creek wildfire swept through. After spending more than two hours sifting through the debris with a rake, the only item that survived the blaze was a miniature Delft Blue house received from KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines.
“The house survived the house fire, ironically,” said the former operational fighter pilot.
Fuhr’s home was swallowed by the wildfire on Aug. 19. He has visited his property a couple of times since and described it as a pile of ash.
“All my flying memorabilia, my memories, all the things I’ve collected over the years. I had a model of every airplane I was ever a captain on, I had photos, I had little mementos from all the units I flew on when I was in the Air Force… all that stuff is gone.”
The former politician said people have stepped up tremendously, to offer him a place to sleep and other support. Even the Prime Minister called Fuhr days after he lost his home to check in and learn more about what was happening in the Okanagan.
Fuhr plans to rebuild the property he has lived at for 15 years. He was able to find a place near his devastated property, so he could be around during the process.
“The 2003 fire is a great example of a big event like this, it’s painful for many people but it’s something that can be overcome.”
When it comes to support from the government, Fuhr said he believes everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.
“But let’s be realistic. If you go to that BC Wildfire app… that map is covered with fires. It is red and orange dots everywhere. I think moving forward here, we’re going to have to have a real serious conversation about more resources, more people, and perhaps a new concept of operations.”
Fuhr noted he had shared to social media that same sentiment in the weeks before his home burned to the ground.
I am grateful for the system we have in place but there is little chance it will be able to keep up to the pace of BC/Canadian wildfires. We need more assets, people and a more robust concept of operations to increase our chance of success. #bcwildfire pic.twitter.com/u4IgfkjALp— Stephen Fuhr CD (@FuhrMP) August 5, 2023
“These fires are absolutely devastating, and they impact everybody,” Fuhr said bringing up insurance rates as an example.
Fuhr said it’s time to reinvent the wheel when it comes to wildfire season.
Black Press asked Fuhr if this experience is one that could push him back into politics, but he said it’s not likely. Helping fight the wildfires either from the air or with flight operations, however, could be in the future.
“If there was an opportunity to do that I think I would seriously consider it.”