Drivers use water bottles, broom to fight roadside fires in Courtenay

Passing motorists used fire extinguishers, bottles of water, their feet and even a broom to try to put out grass fires in Courtenay on Wednesday evening – fires that may have been deliberately set.

“What we got called to was multiple fires along Ryan Road, spread out about 75 metres,” Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said. “We’ve got five different start locations.”

The calls to 911 started shortly before 8 p.m. when the fires were discovered along the busy road that connects Courtenay and Comox.

The motorists jumped into action to try to help contain the flames before fire crews could arrive.

“It’s helpful yes, but you’ve got to look at the safety gear you’re not wearing: flip flops, shorts, that sort of thing, you could get yourself hurt quite easily,” Bardonnex said.

The flames quickly spread in tall grass along the road but Bardonnex said it could have been much worse had the wind been blowing in the opposite direction.

“We had the wind with us for a change so it was blowing up to the roadway, which stopped it from crossing over and stopped it from going down the hill to the residences,” he said.

Bardonnex said it wasn’t initially clear what started the blaze, although one motorist who stopped to assist was heard saying someone travelling up the hill was seen tossing objects to the side of the road prior to the flames appearing.