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

Community support keeps girls hockey alive on the North Island

“A successful program depends on community engagement and support.”

Wilson recognized by Port Hardy Council for commitment to thrift store

Marg is a true leader for Port Hardy’s auxiliary and her nominators feel she is unstoppable.”

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

One person dead in logging truck collision

“The logging truck was stopped for other traffic, and it was rear-ended by a passenger car.”

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Firefighter dies, thousands more take on California blaze

This is second death linked to the Thomas fire, northwest of Los Angeles

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

AHUS patient Shantee Anaquod is home for Christmas

Less than a month after receiving first dose of $750K drug, 23 year old healthy enough to go home

Moose calves rescued in northern B.C. are ‘golden nuggets:’ researcher

Calves discovered near Prince George in late May. Mother had been killed by a car

Most Read