Tamryn Koebel is hoping people will come to the aid of a man who willingly puts his own life on the line for others.
Malakwa volunteer firefighter Cam Salmond lost his own home in a residential fire Sunday night. While he was insured, Koebel has learned that Salmond’s insurance will not cover his losses.
“When he left his home, he didn’t have time to grab a shirt – he’s got nothing,” says Koebel. “They weren’t able to move his truck either because Cam was taken to the hospital right away to deal with his burns. So, as much as he is insured and there was no loss of life, which is great… he lost all of his possessions and he really is starting right from scratch; there’s nothing left.”
Columbia Shuswap Regional District fire services co-ordinator Kenn Mount says Salmond suffered a minor injury, a burn to his head, but was otherwise okay. The blaze, he says, is believed to have started in the front of Salmond’s mobile home. However, given the extent of the damage, the cause cannot be determined.
Koebel affectionately describes Salmond as a proud, good-humoured man who would not ask for help from others, even when it’s needed.
“I’m pretty sure that he’d put a brave face on and not let you in on the whole truth,” she says. “But we know he had nothing and, you know, as much as he doesn’t want to ask for help, he’s going to get it. He deserves it.”
A Facebook page has already been set up called, Help Volunteer Firefighter Cam Salmond. Donations can be made with the FundRazr application, through a personal Paypal account.
Malakwa Volunteer Fire Chief Joanne Held says an account has also been set up at the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union for those who wish to make cash donations.
Koebel, who owns and operates Malakwa’s The Burner Restaurant and Lounge with husband and volunteer firefighter Nathan, is also planning a fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 12. From each firefighter special sold – a $10 burger and fries plate – $5 will go to help Salmond.
“So what we’re going to do is challenge all the fire halls to see how many firefighters they can bring up,” says Koebel. “We get lots of sledders and skiers on Sunday too, so we’ll have them. And we’ll open it up to all of the community as well.”
Koebel is also putting out a “polite challenge” to Moose Mulligans and Joe Schmucks to see who can raise the most for Salmond in a week.
“We’re really hoping to be able to help someone who helps everybody else out. Especially a firefighter,” says Koebel. “Fires are dangerous. To put your life on the line for somebody you don’t know, and knowing that people are relying on you.”
Held says she spoke with Salmond Wednesday morning, and he seems to be coming around to his old self.
“He’s got the laughter back into his voice,” says Held. “He says, you know, what can I do now? I made it out alive.”
Held said it was odd responding to a fire at a home of one of her own, noting Salmond would often be the first on the scene, providing updates to other members as they were getting to the firehall.
“So it was kind of weird that yes, it was his house and he wasn’t going to be radioing us,” said Held.
The fire department received a report of the fire at Salmond’s Delaney Road mobile home at 10:35 p.m. Sunday.
Though the home had smoke alarms, Mount says Salmond woke up not to an alarm, but to the sound of crackling.
“He first tried to exit by the front door,” said Mount. “The attempt let a rush of hot air in that may have been responsible for burns received on his head. He then made his way to the back of the mobile, where he managed to escape through the back door.”
Mount says it was likely Salmond’s firefighter training that saved his life. He knew after trying the front door and seeing smoke, to get down low, stay low and make his way out the back door.
“Otherwise, a lot of people would have stood up… You take a couple of breaths of those toxic fumes and it’s game over,” said Mount, noting one of the few things that could be salvaged was one of Salmond’s fire training books.
Held says she is optimistic Salmond’s fellow firefighters and the community will come to his aid.
“In the firefighter service, there is a lot of support,” says Held. “And he is a community member and he also risks his life to go and fight fires for other people. He definitely could use the support from the community as well.”