SORCO Raptor Recovery Centre manager Dale Belvedere with Houdini the great horned owl and the sign she made up thanking B.C. Wildfire Service Crews. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Wildfire crews credited with saving Okanagan raptor rehab centre

The manager of SORCO is thanking the B.C. Wildfire Service crews for helping save the facility

Without the “incredible” efforts of B.C. Wildfire Service crews the manger of SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre does not believe facility would still be standing.

At one point last week flames from the Eagle Bluff wildfire got to within less than a half kilometre of SORCO and next door neighbour Burrowing Owl Conservation Society’s pens.

And it was only those firefighters who stood between the wildlife centres and the rapidly advancing flames.

“Honestly I can’t thank them (fire crews) enough, they were the ones who saved us, there was nothing we could do, we were in their hands,” said Dale Belvedere who has been at the centre for 11 years, the last four as manager. “When we saw them come down from fighting the fire their faces were completely black, all you could see were their eyes and their lips.

READ MORE: RDOS rescinds evacuation alert for 41 properties near Eagle Bluff wildfire

“I personally have the most incredible respect for them and I know the whole SORCO family has so much respect for them.”

For over a week crews have been going back and fourth through the Nature’s Trust SORCO property to get access to the nearby fire.

While all of the birds from both her centre and Burrow Owl were moved Sunday after the evacuation notice was issued, Belvedere decided to remain behind.

It was Tuesday evening when she saw exactly the dangers the men and women fighting the fire were facing.

“There were about 12 of them hiking up the mountain to fight it and then all of a sudden the helicopter went in and brought them all down,” she recalled. “That’s when the whole mountain exploded in flames on the south side, obviously they knew then it was going to ignite and they got them out of there within a minute, it was just craziness what we were seeing.

“Now every time they come down I make a point of going out there and thanking them.”

READ MORE: Friendly falcon now in residence at Okanagan raptor rehab centre

Belvedere also credited the work of the aircraft pilots who she said were flying up to 14 hours a day.

“As long as they had the light and wind in their favour they weren’t stopping unless they had to,” she said.

Along with verbally thanking the crews, Belvedere has put up a hand-written sign at the property’s entry and exit points the firefighters pass by on their way to and from the fire.

The evacuation notice has since been lifted and as of Monday SORCO, located on the west side of the highway west of Vaseux Lake, was back in business for now at least.

Houdini, SORCO’s resident great horned owl was the first one to return home.

“It was just so strange not having the birds to feed,” said Belvedere, who admitted being in tears at one point. “Since I’ve been here there’s never been a time when we were empty like this, I mean you always hear the birds squawking and there was nothing, it’s just really, really hard to explain.”

SORCO has nursed thousands of raptors back to health and released them back into the wild during it’s existence.


 

@PentictonNews
newstips@pentictonwesternnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


 MarkBrett
Send Mark Brett an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

 

A helicopter fills its bucket with water from Vaseux Lake Monday during the ongoing firefighting efforts. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Firefighting helicopter returns to the Eagle Bluff wildfire Monday morning. (Mark Brett - Western News)

Just Posted

Cannabis Cottage opens its doors in Penticton

The third dispensary in the city opened on Saturday

Penticton Minor Lacrosse Alum returns from Worlds Junior to stay in Canada

Aidan Danby helped Canada to sweep the tournament

Vees sweep up their first preseason win Friday night

The team is off to take on the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday night

Nature Wise: Pushback against resource development projects

Bob Handfield is president of the South Okanagan Naturalists’ Club

Okanagan Ogopogo bathtub race fundraising efforts over the top

In five years the Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has raised over $120,000 for SOSM Foundation

VIDEO: B.C. Mountie killed by drunk driver honoured by memorial playground

Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground opens with ceremony in Langford

Renter of torched Okanagan home a British Army veteran, new Canadian

Owen Wilson was just beginning to settle into life in Canada when the blaze occurred

Thousands cycle to conquer cancer

The 11th annual Ride to Conquer Cancer took place Saturday morning, Aug. 24 in Surrey, B.C.

PHOTOS: Brazil military begins operations to fight Amazon fires

Amazon fires have become a global issue, escalating tensions between Brazil and European countries

Racist confrontation in Richmond parking lot caught on camera

Woman can be heard yelling racial slurs, swear words at woman in apparent parking dispute

Okanagan Nation bringing overdose awareness to Syilx Okanagan communities

The Purple Ribbon Campaign for International Overdose Awareness Day is Aug. 28

Meet the Okanagan’s newest homeless outreach team

The Vernon Homeless Outreach Team makes its first formal appearance Aug. 28 at Upper Room Mission

Groups ready campaign to help young voters identify ‘fake news’ in election

The media literacy campaign to focus on identifying misinformation and suspicious sources online

Big rally in northern B.C. draws attention to continuing lumber crisis

Mayor Joan Atkinson says about 400 workers have been directly affected by the closure of the Canfor mill

Most Read