Join us for our Annual Celebration via Livestreaming this Friday and Saturday

Livestream our Annual Celebration

U.S. | Go to Canada Site
×
Clarence Kruschel Poses for a photo in a new build on a bright day in CanadaClarence Kruschel Poses for a photo in a new build on a bright day in Canada

Clarence Kruschel knows exactly what wildfire survivors in Monte Lake, B.C. are going through.

It was 19 years ago when Kruschel, 74, lost his own home to the Okanagan Mountain Park firestorm, which destroyed 239 houses in Kelowna, B.C.

Kruschel, his wife and one of their sons took shelter at a relative’s home across town after being ordered to evacuate.

“I remember watching the fire advance into our neighbourhood,” he said, recalling that September night in 2003.

“We could hear and see houses bursting into flames, popping off as the fire advanced.”

When it was safe to do so, the family returned to find their house, and all their belongings, gone.

“It isn’t easy to lose your house,” he said.

That’s why he was in Monte Lake the second week of August, volunteering with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) to rebuild homes lost last summer to the White Rock Lake fire.

“We could hear and see houses bursting into flames, popping off as the fire advanced.”

— Clarence Kruschel

“That’s essentially why I’m here,” he said of his first time volunteering with MDS.

Pausing for a break on a hot day at the new home of Dustan and Tami Eager, Kruschel reflected on what the loss of his house meant for him.

“I learned from it not to hold too tightly to things,” he said. “The fire changed me in that regard.”

Of his time with MDS in Monte Lake, the member of the Evangel Pentecostal Church in Kelowna said “this is a wonderful place to serve. I have nothing negative to say about it. The accommodations and food are great, and the other volunteers are friendly.”

That includes the half-dozen or so young people at the project the week he was there.

“They have so much energy!” he said. “It makes me feel old. I wish I was 40 years younger so I could keep up with them.”

John Longhurst, MDS Canada Communications

MDS needs volunteers in Monte Lake through the fall. Go here to learn more.

News & Stories

See More News & Stories