Death of BC Wildfire Service firefighter ‘absolutely devastating’: Revelstoke mayor

The mayor of Revelstoke is calling the death of a B.C. wildfire fighter absolutely devastating. Kier Junos reports the 19-year-old was killed by a falling tree while tackling a fire.

The community of Revelstoke is mourning the loss of one of its own, after a young BC Wildfire Service firefighter was killed on the job Thursday.

Mayor Gary Sulz says everyone’s in shock over the loss of 19-year-old Devyn Gale, who was found caught under a fallen tree while she was out working a fire near Revelstoke.

Sulz is remembering Gale as a “wonderful person,” noting she and her family are well known in the city.

“It’s an absolutely devastating loss for our community,” the Revelstoke mayor told CityNews Friday.

“It’s pretty tragic for any parent to lose a child. Coping would be a good word, but I won’t speak on their behalf other than to say I think everyone’s in shock.”

Related article: 19-year-old BC Wildfire Service crew member dies near Revelstoke

In a statement Friday morning, the Revelstoke RCMP said officers were called in around 3:30 p.m. after being notified of a “workplace fatality.” Police say the RCMP learned that the young adult was working alongside a team assigned to clearing brush within the area where a small fire had started.

The firefighter was airlifted to the Queen Victoria Hospital in Revelstoke but later died of her injuries, officials added.

Gale was later identified as the victim by her brother, who described Devyn as a “careful, considerate, hardworking” individual who was “smarter and better at what she did than she gave herself credit for.”

Devyn Gale, a BC Wildfire Service firefighter who died after a tree fell on her while she was on the job, is pictured sitting on a couch.

BC Wildfire Service firefighter Devyn Gale was killed while on duty near Revelstoke on Thursday, July 13, 2023. She is being remembered as a tenacious, hard working, and loving person. (Courtesy Instagram/Devyn Gale)

“Even at a young age of 19, to be out in the bush doing this sort of thing is a testament to the person she is. She’s concerned about community, concerned about our ecology. And being willing to take this on, there’s a learning curve and she learned that and has done well to be in this field. What more can one say about someone whose strength, grit, and tenacity is about giving back?” Sulz told CityNews.

Gale’s death came as the province continues to grapple with a devastating wildfire season. Earlier this week, B.C. put out a call for national and international help to fight the 350 or so fires in the province.

Condolences, support pour in after death of 19-year-old BC Wildfire Service firefighter

Word of Gale’s passing has prompted an outpouring of support from people not just within B.C. but across Canada.

Officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier David Eby, and federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, also weighed in.

“The news from British Columbia – that one of the firefighters bravely battling wildfires has lost her life – is heartbreaking,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter, offering his condolences.

“We must never forget the risks these heroes take every time they run toward the danger. To firefighters in British Columbia and across the country who are doing just that to keep us safe: Thank you. We are inspired by your courage, and grateful for your service.”

Eby echoed many of those sentiments, adding Gale’s death is a “tremendous loss for everyone involved with the BC Wildfire Service at an already challenging time.”

Sulz says the focus is now on supporting the 19-year-old’s loved ones and celebrating her life.

“Revelstoke’s a small community, we’re very tight, and here to make sure that we support the family as we move forward. It’s emotional, it’s emotional for me, it’s emotional for the young people of our community, but it’s emotional for everyone because the family is well known and well respected,” he said.

“That’s what Revelstoke’s all about — it’s about love, it’s about taking care of each other.”

Sulz says Gale’s family has expressed gratitude for the support that’s come since the woman’s death. In lieu of flowers, anyone wanting to honour Gale’s life is being asked by her loved ones to make donations to community foundations.

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