Princeton volunteer firefighters extinguished the grass fire near Highway 5A before building a soft guard perimeter. They worked around a tarped body carefully, so as not to interfere with the scene. Photo Credit Andrea DeMeer

Small town firefighters rise above stress at grisly scene

“We were not informed there was a body there. We were informed there was a grass fire.”

When Princeton volunteer firefighters responded last Thursday to grass and car blazes near the airport, containment and the threat of a spreading wildfire were the only things on their minds.

They were not aware there was a body on the ground.

“They just came across it,” said chief Rob Banks. “We were not informed there was a body there. We were informed there was a grass fire.”

The discovery could not distract the first responders from their priority – which was to extinguish three separate spot fires before they jumped Highway 5A and moved into the valley.

“Fires like that, there was wind that day, can spread very quickly,” said Banks. “You have to look at what is going on in the province.”

Firefighters were tasked with dousing the flames while staying away from the body as much as possible so as to not disturb the scene.

Related: Man dies of burns and self-inflicted wounds in bizarre public death

RCMP and other first responders were unable to get to the dead man until the fire was out.

Later police determined the 30-year-old victim, whose identity was not released, died of burns and self-inflicted wounds. The grass fire was ignited when the man ran from his burning car and fell to the ground.

Following the events last week a post-traumatic stress and critical incident worker was called in to speak with volunteer firefighters.

Banks said that is the second time such a call has been necessary during his time with the department. Approximately 10 years ago help was sought after a fire killed two local residents.

It’s regrettable, he added, that this death was witnessed by so many people.

“It brings it into the public and the public doesn’t need to see that. Nobody needs to see that.”

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drivesmart column: Mandatory alcohol screening

If you have to drive, don’t drink. If you drink, don’t drive.

Mary Lowther column: Time to plan the winter garden

Weeds have gotten away on me, I’ve just finished laying out my soaker hoses

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Sarah Simpson Column: Finding nature at home

It was time to call in reinforcements.

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read