A van caught fire at the Island West Resort campground in Ucluelet around 7 p.m. Friday.
Lyle Morrow witnessed the fire and told the Westerly News that the van was driving out of the campground’s parking lot when three people and a dog jumped out of it.
“There was a bunch of smoke coming out from under the dash,” he said.
He said he and two other bystanders immediately grabbed fire extinguishers from their campsites and raced towards the van to put the fire out.
“The three fire extinguishers did nothing…The three of us emptied our fire extinguishers to no avail,” he said. “It took probably five minutes and that thing was just engulfed in flames. It happened really fast…It was insane. When those flames started coming out from under the dash, instantly everything started. The tires were exploding. The windows were blowing out of it. We kept hearing lots of little explosions of little things blowing up. ”
He said he and other witnesses watched in horror as the flames grew near the tree line.
“It was pretty scary because it was so close to the trees there, but it’s just lucky with the way the wind was blowing. It was blowing the smoke and flames away from the forest just by fluke,” he said. “If that wind had of been blowing towards the forest, it could have been a different scenario.”
He said the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived and had the fire out within 10 minutes.
“We were just relieved that the forest didn’t catch fire. We knew we couldn’t do anything with that van, but we were pretty concerned about the forest catching on fire,” he said.
He said there were no injuries, though the dog was “freaked out.”
Fire Chief Ted Eeftink told the Westerly News that “the vehicle was completely burned out and gutted” when the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade arrived and witness reports suggested the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction as the vehicle’s owner had plugged a device into the van’s lighter unit.
“He went to plug something into his lighter unit and saw smoke,” Eeftink said. “All of a sudden the dash caught on fire and from there on it was history because, once the dash catches on fire, there’s no way to stop that thing.”
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