Fast-moving fire destroys workshop, recreational vehicles in Lantzville

Investigators are looking into the cause of a blaze that destroyed a workshop as well as two recreational vehicles in Lantzville early Wednesday morning.

According to Fire Chief Neil Rukus, crews were called to the Southwind Drive home at 2:47 a.m. and found the shop couldn't be saved.

"We arrived on scene to find an approximately 20-by-30 (foot) workshop fully involved, fire through the roof,” Rukus says. “It had spread to two recreational vehicles and was spreading to the neighbour's shop and also starting to scorch onto the carriage home next door.”

He says the occupants of the home – as well as the neighbouring property, which also includes a carriage home – were all safely out of their structures.

Neighbour Julie Steward was shocked at how fast the fire was spreading.

"I smelled the smoke and then I did hear a bang,” Steward says. “This is a residential area with a lot of retired and older people. I thought it was unusual how strong it was at three o'clock in the morning."

Steward says she heard more bangs and then could see flames from her house. She immediately became concerned for her father, who was living in the carriage home near the flames.

"My neighbour's backyard was engulfed,” she says. “(I) made sure all the pets were in one room, made sure my dad was out of the cottage and made sure my neighbours were OK.”

Rukus says this fire was the first test of a new mutual-aid agreement between the Lantzville, Wellington and Nanoose fire departments. Their biggest challenge was the lack of water in the area.

"This particular area is completely un-hydranted, so we have to rely on water-tender shuttles, along with our partners and our automatic aid agreement,” he says.

Steward says her neighbours were happy nobody was injured in the fire, but they lost a significant number of items in the blaze.

"Their main water cistern and their pump, everything that they had was there,” she says. “There was motorcycles, there was RVs; it was the husband's workshop."

Steward will be contacting Lantzville's mayor to see if something can be done to bring hydrants to the area.

"A month ago, if this would have happened, these would have been like matchsticks going up,” she says. “What I witnessed and how fast a workshop went down, yeah, it was pretty scary."