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VIDEO: Fire chief and half his members lose their own homes while fighting the wildfire

When the wildfire descended upon the community of Wilson's Landing Thursday night, the situation in Trader's Cove was as surreal as it was devastating.

Crews weren't just trying desperately to save the homes of their close neighbours, they were fighting a losing battle to save their own homes.

Among the 13 who lost their homes was Wilson's Landing Fire Chief Paul Zydowicz.

Zydowicz told the news conference the fire "exploded" into the neighbourhood of Trader's Cove.

"We began losing structures approximately 30 minutes into the event," said Zydowucz in an interview with KelownaNow.

And some of those homes belonged to the firefighters themselves.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

More than half the crew, 13 of the 24 members lost their homes.

The chief was working to save property around Lake Okanagan Resort when the fire got into his own neighbourhood at Jenny Creek.

"We couldn't get in there safely, it was a wall of fire a hundred feet high," he said.

So he simply carried on.

"We proceeded with saving what we could."

Processing his own losses would have to come later.

"I put it on the back burner. Once it burned, it burned. There was nothing we could do about it," he said.

<who>Photo credit: NowMedia </who>

"We focus on what we can save, not what's gone."

Since then, he said they have collectively coped with their losses by carrying on.

"We've tried to stay busy," said Zydowicz, "and keep on working."

He said it's easier to forget that way, but he admits there are signs of post-traumatic stress.

"We're seeing it build up," said the chief.

<who>Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service </who>

"The RDCO has supplied a resource for us to go see someone whether it's a group or individual counselling."

Yet still, all 13 of the members remain on the job today.

"Every single one," said the chief with pride.

"It blows my mind."

Zydowicz had prepared for an evacuation, but he admits he wasn't prepared for what happened.

"At no point did it cross my mind that this was actually going to happen," he said.

"None of the modelling indicated the possibility of it."

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia

Zydowicz said the time to reflect on what he and his friends and coworkers have lost will come, but not yet.

"That point is not here yet," he said.

"We've got another three weeks of work, I figure on the fire to get everybody back in safely."

And after that he adds, the rebuilding begins.

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