A lone occupant was able to jump out of his burning vehicle at the top of Sutton Pass on Thursday, Aug. 24 and escape injury. PIETER TIMMERMANS PHOTO

A lone occupant was able to jump out of his burning vehicle at the top of Sutton Pass on Thursday, Aug. 24 and escape injury. PIETER TIMMERMANS PHOTO

Man escapes injury in Sutton Pass car fire

Port Alberni crews extinguish car, grass fire

The lone occupant of a vehicle that caught fire at the top of Sutton Pass on Aug. 24 escaped injury, thanks to the quick help of bystanders.

The man was driving from the West Coast back to Port Alberni when his minivan suddenly caught fire, Port Alberni Fire Department Deputy chief Wes Patterson said.

“He was driving along and had a mechanical issue and pulled over. That’s when the vehicle caught fire.”

The man was able to get out of the vehicle and rescue some of his personal effects before the vehicle was completely engulfed.

Port Alberni’s fire department responded to the call at the request of BC Forest Service, which covers that area. Sutton Pass is outside of Port Alberni’s fire jurisdiction, although their rescue crews regularly respond to motor vehicle incidents in the area.

“Typically we don’t go out that far,” Patterson explained. “With the extreme dry conditions we’ve had and wind, the BC Forest Service asked us to respond on the fire.”

The vehicle had completely burned and was still smouldering on the side of Highway 4 when fire trucks arrived. “It had singed the grass on the side of the road” in a three-metre-by-three-metre patch, Patterson said.

“With bystanders they did attempt to control the fire and contain it and they were successful. That helped minimize the spread.”

Fire crews extinguished the grass fire and BC Forest Service sent a crew to make sure the fire stayed out.

This isn’t the first time Port Alberni Fire Department has been called out to Sutton Pass or Taylor River Bridge this summer. They have had several calls in the last few weeks, Patterson said.