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West Kelowna fire chief thanks residents for support after inadvertent underwear appeal

When West Kelowna Fire Chief Jason Brolund brought up his underwear during a news conference this week, it was intended as an expression of solidarity, not an appeal for help.

That didn't stop residents from trying to help out anyway.

"I'm still out of my house, as is my family," Brolund said Wednesday, in response to a question about residents frustrated that they aren't being allowed to return home yet.

"I'm feeling the same things you guys are," he continued. "I'm running out of underwear, too, folks. I get it."

In context, the comment was another appeal for patience from a fire chief who has been asking for it daily since the McDougall Creek wildfire swept into his city last week, forcing thousands out of their homes and putting thousands more on evacuation alert.

While some evacuation orders have been downgraded and some residents have been allowed to return home, many parts of the city remain vacated, even if the fire is no longer actively burning near them.

Brolund explained that hazards such as downed wires and danger trees remain in fire zones, and said crews don't want to allow people to return to their homes if there's a chance they'll need to evacuate again if fire conditions change.

He provided much the same explanation on Thursday, again thanking residents for their patience and saying the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre would continue rescinding evacuation orders as soon as it's safe to do so.

He also found himself discussing underwear again.

"On a lighter note, a couple of things: I do want to say, I'm doing fine for underwear," Brolund said Thursday.

"Thank you to those who've sent it. Please don't feel that that's what I need, because it's not."

The chief didn't elaborate at the news conference on how many people had answered his inadvertent call for undergarment assistance, but he did take the opportunity to reiterate another common theme from the week: gratitude.

"It leads me to want to thank the public for their outpouring of support," Brolund said. "It really is the fuel that keeps us all going. Being able to read your comments and the cards that you've dropped off and see the signs outside the fire hall is what fuels my men and women as well as all of the men and women who are involved." Top Stories

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