‘I have never seen anything like it’: Eagle Bluff fire camp staff overwhelmed by community support

Chris Fraser has an appetite to please the hundreds of wildland firefighters he feeds every day in Oliver, B.C.

“Breakfast prep is started at 9 p.m. just because we do need ample time, we’re going through 10 cases of bacon a night and I believe its five to six cases of eggs,” he said.

The kitchen facilities are on the site of a provincial fire camp set up at the Oliver Municipal Airport to support firefighters and logistics staff battling the Eagle Bluff wildfire in the South Okanagan.

“It’s almost like a small town,” said logistics section chief Clint Fenton.

From sleeping accommodations and eating areas to washrooms and office trailers, the camp is completely self-sufficient.

“Being the Southern Okanagan, there really wasn’t any hotel accommodations, they still want to have the town to support tourism,” Fenton said.

“So rather than disrupting the town, we really needed to set up a fire camp.”

BC Wildfire Service staff said they are overwhelmed by the community’s response to their presence in the small town.

“If you’re walking down the street everyone is stopping to say thank you, they’re waving at you, they’re honking, they’re showing all the love that they can,” said branch director Natasha Lewis.

“They’ve been dropping by with donations from Timmies and [are] just really supportive, lots of thank yous,” Fenton said.

Fraser said there’s been a steady stream of donations to his mobile kitchen.

“I have never seen anything like it and I’ve been doing this for three years.”

The Eagle Bluff wildfire, which broke out on Aug. 4, remains out of control and has scorched more than 2,600 hectares of land.

However, it no longer poses an imminent threat to the communities below.

“We do anticipate in the next few days that we may see a bit of an increase in size just because the temperatures are heating up again, so that might increase the fire activity,” said fire information officer Shannon Street on Tuesday.

While all evacuation alerts near the Eagle Bluff fire have been lifted, Street said we’re not out of the woods yet.

“Just keep in mind that this is still an active fire.”

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