A fire can destroy many things – but not spirit

“William and I are still here and the property is still there and Allison Creek is still running through it.”

The first person registered at the Princeton evacuee centre last Friday night was also the first person to lose her home to the out-of-control blaze.

Laila Bird, 81-years-old and a well-known local volunteer and personality, learned Tuesday morning that her home on Highway 5A had been severely damaged by the fire.

She was not informed through official channels, but saw a picture of her house on a neighbour’s phone, showing a caved in roof.

RDOS has confirmed damage to two houses.

The colorful and vibrant president of the Princeton Hospital Auxiliary seemed equal parts shaken and resolute after receiving the news.

She agreed to an interview with The Spotlight on the condition that “no one feels sorry for me. I will take support and friendship, though..and please make the story funny.”

Bird has been staying at a motel since she and her son William were hustled from their home Friday, shortly after the fire started.

She admitted to being a reluctant evacuee, and received several visits from Fortis BC and RCMP before packing up her dog, and her dog’s belongings, and driving to town.

She finally fled when an RCMP officer parked in her driveway and indicated he wasn’t leaving until she did.

“Well, when you are under attack, you want to attack back. I chose to do that with a sprinkler.”

Well-known for her wisdom and sense of humor, Bird remarked: “It’s very inconvenient to find a forest fire on your back steps. It’s a damned nuisance.”

(In a previous conversation with The Spotlight that was the same way she described having cancer.)

When asked to recall the possessions she grieved for most, she was at first stumped, then recollections came to her in starts.

The tomato plants and green peppers.

“Well, they’re gone.”

A pith helmet, a gift from many years ago.

“That might survive, pith helmets are quite strong you know.”

She escaped with no clothes, and explained she had just hung the laundry out when she was served with the evacuation order.

“It’s probably dry now, do you think?”

Personal photos and records are presumably lost, and she shrugged her shoulders.

She did regret, she admitted, forgetting to grab the batteries to her hearing aid.

“On the bright side, I am going to get a whole new wardrobe.”

When asked what she needs most now she answered: “A teapot, and toe nail clippers. I had a really wonderful pair of toenail clippers.”

Bird is unsure what she will do next, but she is relieved her home was insured, and she promised to rebuild.

“It is hard. It is stressful. But William and I are still here and the property is still there and Allison Creek is still running through it.

“People go through things. And they get over them. And we will too.”

Just Posted

Port Hardy Fire Rescue gains eight new recruits

Port Hardy Fire Rescue is still accepting applications for more personnel to join the team.

7 Mile Landfill Sundays not profitable

RDMW to reconsider September Sunday hours

Cottonwood tree causes North Island power outage

BC Hydro’s local crew responded to the outage immediately with a ground patrol to identify the outage

Canada C3 Icebreaker visits the North Island

“It was created to connect Canadians to their country and to each other.”

VIDEO: Port McNeill students walk out in fish farm protest

“People keep talking about fighting for our future. We are actually going to fight for it.”

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

Rogue masseur arrested for sexual assault in Victoria

John Heintzelman, 65, is accused of assaulting a person at his former business, James Bay Massage

Hey Amazon, the bid’s in the mail: Langford mayor

The City of Langford has officially submitted its bid to become the home of Amazon HQ2.

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

INTERACTIVE MAP: Follow the 2017 Tour de Rock

Follow the Tour de Rock, as they pedal more than 1,000 kilometres fundraising to combat paediatric cancer

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Most Read