Mystery fire destroys car in Queen Charlotte

  • Feb. 15, 2010 8:00 a.m.

A mysterious fire Sunday afternoon in Queen Charlotte (Feb. 14) destroyed a Volkswagen car just off Wharf Street near Meegan’s Store. Queen Charlotte deputy fire chief Sean Muise said a couple of people phoned the volunteer fire department around 2:30 pm about the blaze, and within 10 minutes 10 firefighters had responded and were on scene battling the flames with one pumper truck and one rescue truck. Mr. Muise said there was no one inside or around the vehicle and he has no idea what could have caused the fire, or whose car it was. “When we arrived the doors were open and the windows were down,” he said, and the fire was well underway. The firefighters realized there was little chance of saving the vehicle but they used the occasion as an opportunity to practise their training and equipment, Mr. Muise said. The fire was completely doused by 3:45 pm, he said. Mr. Muise said there was an excellent response from the fire department, with about 12 volunteers turning out. The fact that it was Sunday afternoon rather than the middle of the night was a factor in the response, he added. Another lucky thing was that there were no buildings or other vehicles near the burning car. Toxic fumes can be a concern in vehicle fires, he said, and all the firefighters wore breathing apparatus. The fire gave Mr. Muise a chance to try out a thermal imaging camera which the department recently bought with help of the Gwaii Trust. It instantly locates hot spots, he explained. During the car fire, he found the hot spots with the camera, and the firefighters then directed water right at them. “It makes a huge difference,” he said. “It was an excellent opportunity to put all those tools together.” Queen Charlotte RCMP Sgt. Rob Knapton said the car’s owner had identified himself to police following the fire, and police are investigating. “Our concern is whether or not there’s criminal involvement,” he said. It’s not necessarily against the law to burn a vehicle, he said. An owner can do whatever they like with their own property, but they do cross a legal line if they endanger other people, or if they fraudulently pursue an insurance claim. “If you want to destroy your own property, there’s no law that says you can’t destroy your own property,” he said.