They may or may not be rebels, but the tough as nails North Shuswap residents defying evacuation orders definitely have a cause.

The group has risen in opposition to authorities in their fight to protect their homes in the Bush Creek East wildfire that has transformed neighbourhoods into a charred celestial apocalypse. 

Armed with hoses, shovels and axes, they have been beating back flames to save whatever they can, risking their own safety and that of fire crews, according to government and BC Wildfire officials. Meanwhile, the RCMP are following directives by blocking roads and supplies in the evacuation zone, leaving these people basically cut off from society and the help they need. In one case, supplies bound for this group were stopped and turned around by the police enforcing the order.

Unfortunately, this has turned the situation into an “us vs them” scenario in a time of crisis. How sad.

There have also been reports of missing and/or stolen equipment from BC Wildfire, with the suspicion that these residents are using this inventory to carry on their fight. Desperate people turn to desperate measures. 

Observing the futility, many Shuswap homeowners have rallied together to bring supplies to the group by boat, refusing to see their local heroes abandoned in their time of need.

On one hand, we have a band of strong-willed property owners breaking the law by flouting the evacuation order that is designed to protect the safety of everyone in the area. If the fire takes another turn and threatens these people’s lives, fire crews must risk theirs to rescue them. Is that fair to the sons, daughters, wives and husbands of these wildfire crews who are already putting themselves at risk showing up for work each day? No.

On the other hand, these rebels, if you want to call them that, have made the decision to hunker down and protect their assets, with or without help. For various reasons they don’t want to leave their future in the hands of the government, so they are using whatever means necessary to fight until the last drop of water drips out of their hoses. Crazy or commendable, it’s a decision they have made. So at least give them a hand. Don’t abandon them by blocking access to supplies. Don’t put their safety in more jeopardy than it already is. Show a little compassion. 

Here is a shout out to the lone BC Wildfire crew member who apparently saved a West Kelowna home with a garden hose last week. A backyard camera captured him running back and forth extinguishing the approaching flames that the owners thought for sure would destroy their home. A true testament to the dedication of these crews who fight real dragons for a living. 

We feel for the chief and 13 members of the Wilson’s Landing fire department who lost their homes during that fire. Even while their own houses were burning down, these firefighters were steadfast in saving other homes down the street. Two that were injured wanted to  continue the fight on the next shift.

Lyonel Doherty, editor