‘Kind and thoughtful’ firefighter, 19, who died in B.C. is identified by her brother
By The Canadian PressHeadlines News Wildfires Emergency & disaster management Canada wildfire season Canada wildfires death fire-related deaths firefighter
July 14, 2023, Revelstoke, B.C. – A 19-year-old B.C. firefighter who police say was killed by a falling tree near Revelstoke on Thursday has been identified by her brother as Devyn Gale, who was a former member of the B.C. gymnastics team and a star pupil at her high school.
Gale’s death comes as B.C. battles more than 360 fires across the province. Emergencies Minister Bill Blair said Friday he had mobilized federal resources including the military to aid in the province’s wildfire fight.
Nolan Gale said in an Instagram post that his sister was “kind and thoughtful,” and he’s grateful to have grown up alongside her.
“Devyn was an amazing sister,” Nolan posted. “She was smarter and better at what she did than she gave herself credit for.”
“She truly didn’t deserve this.”
A post on Devyn Gale’s Instagram account from 2021 shows her posing with other members of the BC Wildfire Service, saying in a caption that her crew from the Southeastern Fire Centre was “the best.”
Gale was one of three children. Their mother is a local dentist, and their father is a teacher.
Revelstoke RCMP said in a news release that does not name Gale that the young firefighter was working on brush-clearing in a remote area where a fire had started.
Mounties said her team lost contact with her before finding her pinned under a fallen tree. They immediately gave her first aid, but she succumbed to her injuries after being airlifted to a hospital in Revelstoke.
The Revelstoke RCMP said the death is now under investigation by police, the BC Coroners Service, WorkSafeBC, and the BC Wildfire Service.
At Revelstoke Secondary School’s 2021 graduation ceremony, Gale was described as the school’s “best all around student” that year and “extremely hardworking.”
Video of the graduation ceremony shows Gale accepting her diploma as an MC reads out a number of scholarships awarded to her, detailing her gymnastics accomplishments and her plans to pursue a career in nursing.
On Friday, the Revelstoke Community Foundation shared a photo of Gale with her brother and sister, and said it was accepting donations in her memory at the family’s request.
“The goal is to allow Devyn’s vibrant legacy to live forever in the Revelstoke community,” it said in a Facebook post. “The Gale family appreciates the outpouring of support.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the death was “heartbreaking,” offering condolences to the firefighter’s family, friends and fellow firefighters.
Trudeau made the comments on social media, reflecting similar statements issued late Thursday by Premier David Eby and the BC General Employees Union.
Gale’s death is the fourth linked to B.C. wildfires since 2010.
Sixty-year-old John Phare was killed in 2015 while working on a blaze on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver. Two Conair airtanker pilots, Tim Whiting and Brian Tilley, died when their plane went down south of Lytton in July 2010.
The BC Wildfire Service says tens of thousands of lightning strikes over the last seven days have sparked hundreds of new fires in the province, but with temperatures closer to average and some rain expected next week, a slight reprieve might be on the way.
“We must never forget the risks these heroes take every time they run toward the danger,” Trudeau’s statement said.
“To firefighters in British Columbia and across the country who are doing just that to keep us safe: Thank you.”
Eby’s statement called the firefighter’s death a “tremendous loss for everyone involved with the BC Wildfire Service at an already challenging time.”
The statement said the tragedy serves as a heartbreaking reminder that firefighters are often putting their lives on the line to keep people and communities safe, and offers condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the woman on behalf of all British Columbians.
Gale’s death came as the province put out a call for national and international help to fight the hundreds of active fires across B.C.
The province has requested 1,000 additional foreign firefighters to join 160 from Mexico and the United States already in B.C., as well as more federal resources, Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Minister Bowinn Ma said Thursday.
Minister of Emergency Preparedness Blair said Friday he had approved the request for federal resources to aid firefighters and emergency management personnel who are “working tirelessly” in B.C.
He said in a tweet that the assistance would come from across federal departments and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Blair said earlier that federal help could include military assistance for airlift evacuations from remote locations, as well as troops trained as firefighters who can “mop up” to keep blazes from reigniting.
The wildfire service says the total number of active fires has topped 360, while the number of threatening or potentially damaging blazes has jumped to 17, all but one of them in woodlands from west of Quesnel to the Fort Nelson area.
Lightning is forecast through Saturday in many parts of northern B.C. and the southern and southeastern Interior, but Environment Canada is calling for showers and more seasonal temperatures to start next week.
The fire that Gale’s crew was fighting was not identified by police. But the only fire the BC Wildfire Service website shows close to Revelstoke is a small, out-of-control blaze discovered on Wednesday.
The service says it is suspected to have been caused by lightning.
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