Amid Wildfires, Nova Scotians Give US Firefighter a Birthday Surprise

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2023 6:33 AM CDT
Nova Scotians Stage a Sweet Surprise for US Firefighter
Firefighters' helmets and water bottles rest against the windshield of a truck at a command center within the evacuated zone of the wildfire burning in Tantallon, Nova Scotia, outside of Halifax on Wednesday, May 31, 2023.   (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)

Kevin Pezanowski probably didn't envision spending his 60th birthday fighting wildfires in Nova Scotia. But that's where the New Hampshire man found himself as part of a team of about 17 firefighters who traveled from the US northeast to help battle the largest forest fire in the Canadian province's history. His assistance did not go unnoticed. On Monday, he was repaid in love and lobster. For the last 10 days, the Salvation Army has been providing about 250 meals per day to firefighters who've been battling Shelburne County's Barrington Lake wildfire, per CTV News. On Monday, a volunteer serving breakfast to the firefighters at a local arena heard from another firefighter that it was Pezanowski's birthday.

The woman "asked if there was anything we could do that evening for his birthday," Nick Brand tells the CBC. Brand says he told the woman, "Leave it to me." He then contacted a friend, who donated some 25 lobsters for the birthday feast, along with cooking equipment. More locals donated biscuits, salads, an ice cream cake, and serving dishes, while others volunteered to cook. The owners of an old restaurant even offered up their space, feeling a proper lobster dinner shouldn't be eaten in an arena.

With the community coming together to help those affected by the fires, "it's pretty easy here in town right now to find people to help out," Brand notes. "There's so many of us that were just wanting to do something to help, to pay back the firefighters that are here helping to save our community." Brand, who shared a photo of the special birthday dinner, said it came as a surprise to Pezanowski and his fellow firefighters, who were "pretty happy to see some lobster waiting for them" after a long day of battling flames on Monday. The Barrington Lake fire remains out of control, though it is no longer moving, per the CBC. It covered 90 square miles as of Thursday, when displaced residents were expected to learn whether their homes had been damaged. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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