Severe fire damage to this car could be seen as a long line of vehicles slowly drove by in the southbound lanes of Highway 19 in Parksville on Friday, Aug. 10. — Catherine Belway Photo

Helicopter dumps water on Parksville car fire scene

Apparent engine trouble led to destroyed car, grass catching fire on Hwy. 19

A car was destroyed, but a possible wildfire was avoided when Errington firefighters and a helicopter with the Coastal Fire Centre took action Friday, Aug. 10.

A car had pulled onto the shoulder of southbound Highway 19 near the Coastal Fire Centre (665 Allsbrook Rd.) with car trouble, and a fire began under the hood, said Errington Volunteer Fire Department’s fire chief, Troy Bater.

Bater was the first firefighter on the scene, arriving at about 11:05 a.m. to find the car “fully involved.” A large plume of smoke could be seen from kilometres away.

Bater did what he could, focusing on the dry grass that had caught fire in an effort to keep the blaze from turning into a wildfire. “I knocked down the grass, and then the helicopter from the forestry brase came and dropped two buckets on it for me,” said Bater. “They helped me out a bit there, and then my guys showed up and we put the rest of it out,” he said.

The driver of the vehicle was safe and away from the fire, sustaining no injuries, Bater said.

Having a helicopter respond to a car fire is not too common, he said, “But if they’re in the area, sometimes they help out, especially this time of year.”

“It was definitely very helpful,” he said.

Bater noted that it was lucky the driver had not pulled her car over further into the grass, “or else it could have been a lot different.”

The fire caused a traffic snarl in the southbound lanes of the highway for about an hour, but Bater said he cleared the scene a short time after noon.

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