It was no quiet noon hour in downtown Quesnel as black smoke poured from a septic truck that caught fire, setting off loud bangs as its tires exploded.
The chaotic scene erupted before 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 30, behind the TD Bank at 321 Reid Street.
Dozens of onlookers watched, with some bystanders attempting to direct traffic away from the area as the Quesnel Volunteer Fire Department (QVFD) and the RCMP arrived.
Quesnel RCMP Const. Jose Dava was driving in the area when he saw the black smoke.
“I came to find the vehicle engulfed, and then I see a bunch of people walking and pretty much told them to clear the area,” Dava said.
Dava was standing approximately 20 meters from the vehicle when the first explosion went off, and he immediately requested additional members to cordon off the area and evacuate neighbouring buildings.
A second explosion shortly went off, which Dava said QVFD fire chief Ron Richert later told him was from the tires.
“The main concern was the safety of everybody in the area.”
Standing nearby was driver Jason Nelson who was unharmed.
“I just came back from the dump site and was turning around the corner,” Nelson said when a friend was frantically waving and trying to alert him. “I saw a little bit of smoke coming from the hood, and he’s like you’re on fire.”
Nelson pulled off the road to park and check.
The flames quickly intensified, and he said he grabbed a fire extinguisher which didn’t do too much.
“I was going to say they did pretty good,” Nelson said of the quick response by firefighters who eventually extinguished the blaze.
The cause of the fire that left the vehicle being a write-off is unknown.
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