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

‘Stuff the Sleigh’ event aims to collect 5,000 Christmas toys for Surrey children

The Surrey Central Lions Club event will support the Surrey Christmas Bureau

Surrey RCMP seeking help to find man missing since Nov. 7

Hyung ‘John’ Lee was last seen in the 13300-block of Old Yale Road

Call for better security follows fuel thefts at South Surrey Park & Ride

White Rock man says someone used a drill to drain his fuel tank Wednesday

Pair of proposed Guildford highrises coming to public hearing Monday

City of Surrey received 229-signature petition opposing the plan

VIDEO: B.C. couple creates three-storey ‘doggie mansion’ for their five pups

Group of seven, who Kylee Ryan has dubbed as the ‘wandering paws,’ have a neat setup in Jade City

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Paul Bissonnette joins Vancouver Warriors after tweeting he could walk on to an NLL club

Bissonnette will join the Warriors for their final week of training camp at Rogers Arena

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Body found after SUV found fully engulfed in flames in Abbotsford field

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team have been called in

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

Most Read