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Praise flooding in for volunteers amid raging wildfires

Last Updated Jul 19, 2017 at 4:48 pm PDT

Volunteers in Kamloops hand out food to the many wildfire evacuees. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon is the latest person to praise volunteer efforts

There are an estimated 140 wildfires currently burning across BC

KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) – Wildfires continue to threaten homes across parts of the province’s central interior, but that hasn’t stopped evacuees from showing their gratitude to those lending their support and time to help them.

BC’s 29th Lieutenant Governor is back on her home turf to support those affected by the fires, and is the latest to praise volunteers in Kamloops.

“I just wanted to come and see for myself just what was going on, I mean this is my home area, so I needed to see,” says Judith Guichon, who became the Queen’s representative nearly five years ago.

She was well known in the area because her family’s ranch has been in the Nicola Valley since 1878.

Guichon was also once the president of the BC Cattlemen’s Association.

“All you can do with large herds of cattle is open the gates and hope they find a safe spot and they’re pretty wise, they know their range but ya, it’s heartbreaking.”

She says she’s proud of the front line workers who are fighting to keep flames away from homes, as well as the volunteers.

“They have been able to manage people and get them going in the right direction, and a huge volume of people and the paperwork that they’ve got, it’s all sorted out in a very tremendous system.”

Guichon says she remembers what happened in 2003, when flames threatened her home and livelihood.

“I’ve never experienced anything in 45 years where we went from floods to fire in such short order.”

Her ranch near Merritt is now being operated by two of her four children.

Meanwhile, Daniel Gordon Melo from Williams Lake has been in Kamloops for the past three days. He says he’s eager to go home, but has had no trouble getting the support he needs in Kamloops.

“They help you fully –no problem– but you know it takes time to get it all arranged right.”

Melo says he has no idea when he’ll be allowed to go home, but understands fire crews are doing their absolute best to keep fires away from structures.

He explains he had to leave his entire life behind, but is confident his house will be standing when it gets back.

“Things might smell like smoke, but it’s better than it being gone completely right?”

Crystal Latondress has been out of her home near 100 Mile House for close to two weeks says she hasn’t been sleeping well.

“It’s been very stressful, more so now that we’ve been evacuated twice now,” says Latondress. She adds her family has had some trouble getting financial compensation.

“We’ve been getting vouchers and whatnot but nothing in the form of actual money so far.”

Latondress says it’s still unclear when she and her family will get to go home, but is impressed by the kindness and generosity from the community taking them in.

“It really shows the kind of character people have, and what businesses have when there’s a crisis like this. I’m astounded at how much has been donated and what resources are out there.”