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Off-duty firefighter prevents 'torched' truck fire from spreading

Security footage and more information sought by police after July 22 incident in Roberts Creek
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The Sunshine Coast RCMP is looking for more information after a truck was “torched” in Roberts Creek in the early hours of July 22. 

In a request for information, published on the detachment’s website, police report that a grey Ford Excursion is suspected to have been “deliberately set on fire” before 6:15 a.m. in the 2500 block of the Sunshine Coast highway (Roberts Creek). Cst. Karen Whitby confirmed in an email to Coast Reporter that the truck was in a residential area.

Fire chief Patrick Higgens of the Roberts Creek Volunteer Fire Department arrived on the scene at approximately 6:09 a.m. — but one of his volunteers was already there, using a personal extinguisher to put out the flames. 

The off-duty volunteer firefighter was driving to work when he saw the truck on fire, called 9-1-1 to report it and began fighting the flames with an extinguisher he keeps in his own vehicle. Once Higgins arrived on scene, the fire chief helped knock down the flames in the back of the truck. The fire apparatus followed, and a total of 10 of the fire department’s members responded by applying foam and water. A thermal imager was then used to check the truck for any extensions through the vehicle, Higgins said. The fire was confined to the vehicle. 

The off-duty firefighter who was first to respond “prevented, basically, that fire from spreading to the fuel tank on the truck,” Higgins said. “Had it reached the fuel tank, then it would have been a busy day.” 

The truck was parked next to a fibreglass boat, a wood shed, a tree line and another boat was close to the shed. Had the truck’s fuel tank caught on fire, the surrounding objects could have acted as fuel. 

“That was a good save,” Higgins said of the volunteer’s quick response. “I was really, really pleased with that.”

Now the RCMP are seeking any information or footage from security cameras that may have captured “activity in the area” between 5:30 a.m. and 6:15 a.m.

Anyone with such information is asked to call the RCMP’s non-emergency line at 604-885-2266 or email SCRCMPInfo@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.