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

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

Langley-based Team BC curls into semis, despite illness

Team Tardi is representing B.C. at the New Holland Canadian Junior Championships in Quebec.

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

Giants fall in six-round shootout

Visiting Victoria squad beats Vancouver 4-3 at Langley Events Centre

UPDATE: 24-year-old Lovepreet Dhaliwal ID’d as victim in targeted Abbotsford shooting

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

VIDEO: Indoor pumpkin patch plans unveiled as Langley nursery wraps up from Glow

A first-ever indoor light show and Christmas market proved so popular organizers are looking at other ideas.

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Most Read