“It could have made Rock Creek look like a backyard barbecue but those guys were right on the spot and not afraid to go into action.”
That was the assessment of longtime Upper Clearwater resident George Briggs after tow-truck operator Kevin Tinker and others helped prevent a vehicle fire from causing a major forest fire.
The incident occurred late Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 20, about 20 km up Clearwater Valley Road.
According to Briggs, a woman with two children were in one vehicle that collided with a second vehicle.
Briggs first became aware of the incident when he saw a black column of smoke rising in the distance.
Although the crash occurred near where his driveway connects with the road, the Briggs’ house is about one kilometre away.
The Upper Clearwater man grabbed a five-gallon pump-can and jumped into his pickup.
When he arrived at the road, he found two vehicles smashed together, with one of them burning actively.
Fortunately, a tow-truck from Clearwater Towing had been up in the park, apparently pulling a vehicle that had gone into the ditch back onto the road.
The tow-truck operator, Kevin Tinker, sized up the situation and, with the help of two other men, attached a long line to the burning car.
The line was attached to the spokes of one of the vehicle’s wheel.
“I was afraid of the gas tank exploding but Kevin seemed to know what he was doing,” Briggs said.
The tow truck then pulled the pickup into an open gravel area in Briggs’ driveway where it could burn itself out safely.
Soon afterwards, personnel from BC Ambulance, Clearwater Volunteer Fire Department, Clearwater and District Highway Rescue and BC Forest Service arrived on the scene.
“It was really quite an effort by those folks,” Briggs said. “It was a good community effort.”
Kevin Tinker was quite modest about his accomplishment.
“I’m just glad that I was able to do that,” he said. “It just good luck that I arrived on the scene when I did.”
Gas tanks exploding when vehicles are on fire is something that happens mostly in the movies, from what he said.
“I’ve seen enough vehicle fires to know it’s not likely to go bang,” Tinker said.
The two vehicles had already been separated and the fire was mostly out when Clearwater Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene, said fire chief Mike Smith.
RCMP Sgt. Kevin Podbisky had called him to see if the fire department could help out.
Smith in turned called District of Clearwater chief administrative office Leslie Groulx to get permission to go outside the municipality’s fire protection boundary.
Only the department’s bush truck and five firefighters went to the scene. One pumper truck assisted by driving to the municipal boundary with extra water for the crew.
The District’s bylaws allow the fire department to go outside the boundary, but only with permission, the fire chief said.
“Clearwater was not left unprotected,” the fire chief said. “We never take everything out of town.”
At least one person was reportedly taken to hospital on a stretcher. However, the medical condition of those involved in the crash is not yet know.
Also not yet known is whether any charges are pending against any of those involved.