Car leaves Vet­er­ans Memo­rial High­way, catches fire, charges laid

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE

A car that went out of con­trol, hit a ditch and caught fire on the Vet­er­ans Memo­rial High­way (west of Har­bour Grace) kept 11 fire­fight­ers from the Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade busy for a few hours last week.

The bri­gade got the call for help around 2:37 a.m, Sun­day May 24.

“The driver ap­peared to have lost con­trol of the car, went into a ditch and then caught fire,” said Fire Chief So­nia Wil­liams.

It took fire­fight­ers a cou­ple of hours to ex­tin­guish the blaze.

“The car was in the ditch, so it took a lit­tle more work to get the fire out,” ex­plained Wil­liams. “It was also a bit of a dif­fer­ent fire, more com­pli­cated, be­cause the rub­ber tires and paint on the car were burn­ing, so that re­quired a bit of ex­tra time and ef­fort.”

At the time of the ac­ci­dent Con­sta­ble Chris Har­ris and an­other mem­ber of the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion ,District RCMP were pa­trolling the Vet­er­ans high­way. A mem­ber of the Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade flagged them down.

“There was a ve­hi­cle off the road with quite a bit of smoke com­ing from it,” Har­ris told The Com­pass.“ Not long af­ter a lone male walked up from the ditch and within a few min­utes the car burst into flames.”

The driver of the car was in­tox­i­cated.

“The male will be go­ing to court in July to face charges of op­er­at­ing a ve­hi­cle with an al­co­hol level over the le­gal limit. For­tu­nately no one was in­jured and the Har­bour Grace Fire Bri­gade were able to ex­tin­guish the fire be­fore it could spread any fur­ther than just around the car.”

Mean­while the Bri­gade is gear­ing up for a busy few months and putting their sum­mer sched­ule in place.

“We have six crews in place and one of those crews is re­spon­si­ble to be in Har­bour Grace all the time,” said Fire Chief Wil­liams. “If any one is go­ing on hol­i­day or sick or can’t be avail­able for some rea­son or an­other then some­one else will fill in for them.”

Like most fire de­part­ments, train­ing is ex­ten­sive and con­tin­u­ous. Three fire­fight­ers from the Har­bour Grace Bri­gade are cur­rently in Clarenville for train­ing.

“One mem­ber is get­ting his level one in fire train­ing, an­other is re­ceiv­ing level two while the third fire­fighter is be­ing trained in ve­hi­cle ex­trac­tion,” ex­plained Wil­liams.

On Mon­day May 25, the Bri­gade was also called to a home in Har­bour Grace where a fur­nace had back­fired.

While the hours are er­ratic and the role of a vol­un­teer fire­fighter is de­mand­ing, Wil­liams says it’s all part of the job.

“There are nights when you don’t get much sleep, that’s for sure,” she said. “You may be called to a scene early in the morn­ing, be there un­til the fire is out and then have to go straight to work, to your paid job. But that’s just the na­ture of the po­si­tion I guess - some­thing all vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers do on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.”

Photo cour­tesy of So­nia Wil­liams

CAR FIRE - The driver of this car, which went off the road on the Vet­er­ans Memo­rial High­way and caught fire, is fac­ing im­paired driv­ing charges. Eleven fire­fight­ers from the Har­bour Grace Fire Vol­un­teer Bri­gade as well as two RCMP of­fi­cers from Trin­ity Con­cep­tion District re­sponded to the May 24 ac­ci­dent.

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