Man’s house burned while he loaded air tankers with retardant

Puntzi Fire, structures burned
A photo of some of the structures that burned in the Puntzi Lake Fire in British Columbia.

While Geordie Ferguson was loading fire retardant into air tankers to fight the Puntzi Lake Fire 130 kilometers (81 miles) west of Williams Lake, British Columbia, he found out that his house burned in the fire. But he kept loading air tankers.

A GoFundMe account has been set up for Mr. Ferguson.

Below are excerpts from an article at

As his house burned to the ground, Geordie Ferguson was doing what he always does: thinking about others.

“I had a job to do,” says the man who loaded 29 planes with fire retardant on the day he lost his home next to Puntzi Lake.

“I could not put myself first. I could not hold my head down and pout and cry. I had planes to load, I had more houses to save. I had a community depending on me to do my job, and I did it.”

Ferguson works as a loader technician for ICL Canada. For the last eight years, he’s lived in a home on the shores of Puntzi Lake, driving 15 minutes each day to his job at the Royal Canadian Air Force station on Puntzi Mountain.

In the summer, he services the many planes using the base to fight fires throughout the Chilcotin and Cariboo regions.

“We supply the manpower, pumps and retardants to forestry for loading the aircraft for fighting the forest fires. Those guys are my heroes. The guys in the aircraft, the ground crew, everyone involved [in fighting fires] is a stellar person,” said Ferguson.

He made a quick call to a friend, who confirmed that while his house was gone, his dog had escaped and was being taken care of.

Then Ferguson went back to work. He’s stayed there, working and sleeping at the base, ever since.

“I don’t want to go anywhere else. Once I learned my dog was safe, I was staying here. Anyone who was trying to get me out of here, win lose or draw, it’d be one hell of a fight. I am here, I’m going to load planes,” he says.

“All I wanted could do is make sure I could save other people’s houses and some lives in between, and be supportive of ground crew. Everything else is immaterial.”

Ferguson lost everything but his dog, wallet, iPhone, iPad and pickup truck.

“I had a lot of things, but I can get new things. None of that matters to me. None of that is important in life. It’s what I signed up to do, and the job that I have is a proud, prestigious job, and I love it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

“I’m just a simple man, and everyone deserves more of a prop than I do. They hired me to load planes, and come hell or high water, I’m going to load planes,” he says.

“I was brought up old-school. There was no whining, or would ofs, or thinking about yourself. Think about others. And let’s get the job done, and we’ll work out all the other stuff later.”…

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “Man’s house burned while he loaded air tankers with retardant”

  1. I hope I could be as positive in these circumstances. Thanks for being a great example, Mr. Ferguson, and good luck with everything in the coming days!


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