First responders became second responders after several Whiskey Creek residents rushed to the aid of a couple whose car rolled and caught fire on a quiet residential street Saturday afternoon.
A 75-year-old Nanaimo woman and her 80-year-old husband were treated and released from Nanaimo Regional General Hospital after residents and Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department members doused the flames and extracted them from the upended SUV.
“The neighbours pitched in to keep the fire at bay until we got there, and removed one of the occupants through the front window,” fire chief Aaron Poirier said. “It was a pretty good community response, pitching in to do what needed to be done.”
One of the volunteer citizens, a 14-year-old boy, was taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation before being released, Oceanside RCMP spokesperson Jesse Foreman said.
Fire rescue, RCMP and B.C. Ambulance Service were called shortly after 3 p.m. Oct. 22, after the woman drove her 2015 Toyota Rav-4 off the shoulder of the road at the corner of Carson Road and Harris Crescent.
“She became ill and drove off the the road at a slow speed, causing the car to tip over on its side,” RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman said. “Her husband, a passenger in the front seat, then noticed smoke coming from under the hood.”
Nearby residents who heard or saw the incident rushed to the scene while 911 was called. The women was removed through the front window after it was pulled out by a rescuer.
“Multiple neighbours responded,” said Poirier. “One of them accessed the windshield with a shovel, and others came out with fire extinguishers, garden hoses, whatever they had to keep the fire down until our crews got there. They had a big piece in the positive outcome for the victims.”
Efforts to remove the passenger were stymied until fire rescue personnel cut away a portion of the vehicle’s roof with the Jaws of Life.
Foreman said both occupants were alert and responsive. The woman complained of minor shoulder pain and both were taken by ambulance to hospital in Nanaimo, where they were treated and released the same afternoon.
Poirier said fire officials “couldn’t find a definitive answer” to what caused the fire to start.