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Father, son battle White Rock Lake wildfire for Okanagan Indian Band

‘He is the bravest young man I know,’ former North Westside fire chief says of 16-year-old son

Jason Satterthwaite has been fighting fires for the past 15 years and said the 78,190-hectare White Rock Lake wildfire is the most intense he’s ever faced.

But he’s not the only Satterthwaite going up against “the beast.” He is joined by his 16-year-old son, Aiden. Battling side-by-side for the Okanagan Indian Band Fire Department.

“Not to be poetic,” he said after an 18-hour battle. “But, the radiant heat vaporized our tears before they could roll down our cheek.”

Jason said his son has been his support through this fight many times.

“He is the bravest young man I know. Not only did he stand beside me. He looked the demon straight in the eye and charged toward her fiery breath,” Jason wrote in a social media post after the out-of-control White Rock Lake wildfire was fuelled by the wind on Sunday, Aug. 15.

The entire time the two were on the frontline, the North Westside Fire Department was working to protect the Satterthwaite family home.

“We still don’t know if our house is standing,” Jason told Black Press.

He was formerly the chief of that department until he was let go in 2020, about six months after he and his lieutenant Rob Gajda were suspended. The details of the suspension have still yet to be made public.

READ MORE: North Westside residents shocked at fire chief’s suspension

“It’s been tough working beside them,” he said of his former crew. “But I know them well and I know they did everything they could to save our homes.

“They are my heroes.”

As for the OKIB’s youngest firefighter, Jason said Aiden has always been a part of the fire family but this is the first season he’s working as a firefighter.

“He has so many other commitments,” Jason said. “However, the fire made him really want to come out and help.”

Aiden most recently made headlines last October when he took on a 41-kilometre unicycle ride from the Valley of the Sun subdivision to his school in Vernon — W.L. Seaton Secondary — to raise funds for a community playground.

READ MORE: Approximately 70 Westside Road properties significantly damaged due to White Rock Lake wildfire

READ MORE: Westside Road community mourns the loss of shop in White Rock Lake wildfire


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