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Helicopter airdrop of granola bars for Poomba the pig, after surviving B.C. wildfire

The Broken Rail Ranch in West Kelowna was engulfed in flames last Thursday, but Poomba is roaming the last patch of grass, cared for by firefighters.
Firefighters feed Poomba the pig in this recent handout photo. Poomba survived a firestorm in West Kelowna and firefighters have been taking care of her by feeding her water, apples and sometimes granola bars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Broken Rail Ranch Trail Rides

Nourished by a helicopter airdrop of granola bars, Poomba the pig has survived the wildfire devastation that surrounds her on what remains of the Broken Rail Ranch in West Kelowna.

The ranch was engulfed in flames last Thursday, but Poomba is roaming on the last patch of grass, cared for by firefighters, said West Kelowna resident Keramia Lawrie, whose parents own the property.

"It's just a miracle that Poomba survived," said Lawrie.

"She was kind of in the eye of the storm and she was unharmed. I mean, it's just crazy that she survived, not because of the fire itself but of the heat and the smoke," said Lawrie. 

Lawrie said her father, Jeff Findlay, had tried to load Poomba and her sister pig, Miss Wilbur, for evacuation as the McDougall Creek wildfire advanced on the property last week. But they were too stubborn, and Findlay had to flee without them.

The ranch was "surrounded by flames" when Findlay left, said Lawrie. 

The next couple of days were a whirlwind of emotions for the family as they worried about the fate of their beloved animals.

"We really just assumed that they were both dead because you know the whole property was reduced to rubble," said Lawrie. 

It wasn't until Sunday they heard that Poomba was alive, spotted by a helicopter pilot in the middle of destroyed buildings and ashes. 

"He actually threw down some granola bars from the helicopter and then the next day we knew she was OK and the fires calmed down a bit," said Lawrie. 

Sadly, Miss Wilbur was found dead on Monday.

Lawrie said firefighters have been visiting Poomba to feed her apples and more granola bars, and to keep her hydrated amid the smoke and heat.

The firefighters have also been sending Lawrie many photos of Poomba, who she said seems happy. 

Lawrie said the loss of Miss Wilbur left them broken-hearted, recalling the sounds she would make when she was scratched. 

She said a vet had checked on Poomba, who was doing well, and the family was looking forward to a reunion soon.

Lawrie said her parents, who are now staying in a hotel, are still processing the loss of their business and home. 

But most of the livestock on the property had been saved, including 19 horses, a miniature pony and four goats.

Lawrie shared the story of Poomba's survival on social media, and said the pig was a "symbol of survival and hope."

"Strongest survivor piggy ever," read one of the comments. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 23, 2023.

Nono Shen, The Canadian Press