Nearly 2,000 people — about half of them firefighters and emergency personnel — gathered in Enderby, B.C., on Thursday to honour a local volunteer firefighter who died battling a fierce blaze last week.
Dan Botkin, 25, was killed Dec. 29 by an explosion while fighting a fire at a log building construction company in the community, about 35 kilometres north of Vernon.
Botkin had just returned to Enderby after working in Alberta and had married two months earlier.
Firefighters from as far away as Ottawa, Calgary and Washington state travelled to the B.C. Interior to attend the service, which started with a march at 10 a.m. PT to the local arena where the funeral was held.
"Dan Botkin gave it all," said B.C. Fire Commissioner Rebecca Denlinger. "He has offered the highest sacrifice, he lay down his life in service for us and he lost it."
Childhood friend Missy Schallin also spoke at the service.
"He did not die a hero — he was born a hero. And he was truly an amazing person, and I will never forget him," Schallin said.
Several hundred people lined the streets to watch the procession.
Cyr said everyone is pulling together to accommodate the number of visitors and support the family and the local firefighters who are grieving the loss.
"It's a huge, a huge, huge show of support and it means a lot to get everyone together, to have people to help,” said Tom Desorcy, of the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C.
“The fire departments in the area of Enderby are stepping up to assist and do some legwork for the fire department. They've got a lot on their mind right now."