Father and son fight wildfires in southern Okanagan to save their home

A Kelowna native lost his home in the wildfires at Kerimos Creek on July 30.

Les Mursza grew up in Kelowna before moving to Green Mountain, where he has lived “off the grid” for the past 12 years.

Due to the house’s unique structure and remote location, Mursza was unable to secure the structure or its contents.

A GoFundMe page has been organized to help Mursza rebuild what was destroyed in the fire and find temporary housing in the meantime.

Despite being neighbors to Morsa, Caillum Smith of Preserve Light Photography and his partner, Alison Lujan, were able to avoid the fire.

On July 30, Smith and Logan grabbed their dogs and left their home, fearing for their lives when an ember lit Morsa’s home, causing a 200-foot wall of fire that was moving toward them.

(Caillum Smith / Archived Photography)

After spending the night in safety, believing that their home and possessions would surely be charred, the couple returned to find that their home had gone up in flames.

They spent the next day creating fire breaks, clearing the fuel yard, digging trenches and regulating water systems like sprinklers, working under the supervision of Caillum’s father, a former firefighter with 20 years of experience, and the BC Wildfire Service, who arrived to help protect the property.

(Caillum Smith / Archived Photography)

(Caillum Smith / Archived Photography)

On August 1, the fire doubled towards their house, but this time they were ready.

“It surrounded us like a predator,” Kilum said.

In partnership with the BC Wildfire Service and the Keremeos Fire Department, the father-son duo and Lujan put out the fire.

By ten o’clock that night, a fire broke out in their property line.

“That was when the fighting started,” Kilum said.

Clay and Caillum Smith battling wildfires at Kerimous Creek. (Caillum Smith/Preserved Light Photography)

Clay and Caillum Smith battling wildfires at Kerimous Creek. (Caillum Smith/Preserved Light Photography)

They protected the mountainside property with hoses and sprinklers, and managed embers and spot fires as they appeared, following the directions of the professionals.

Caillum said he was impressed by the skills and knowledge of the bushfire crew assigned to protect their home.

A GoFundMe for Morsa can be found here.

Clay Smith, Sr., digs a trench to prevent encroachment on fire. (Caillum Smith/Preserved Light Photography)

Clay Smith, Sr., digs a trench to prevent encroachment on fire. (Caillum Smith/Preserved Light Photography)


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BC Wildfires 2022bcwildfireKeremeosOkanaganOkanagan-Similkameen Regional District Penticton

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