British Columbia

'We were stretched very thin:' Burnaby firefighters kept busy overnight with multiple incidents

Fire officials say they were close to having to call in extra firefighters, after two major incidents broke out within minutes of each other.

Two calls within minutes for a large fire, serious rollover crash

Firefighters make their way through a field to get to the other side of a large fire on Willard Avenue in Burnaby. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

It was a busy night for fire crews and first responders in Burnaby, B.C.

Firefighters were busy battling a large fire at a shed on Willard Avenue, in addition to rescuing a man trapped inside his car in a ditch on Marine Way near Byrne Road.

Both incidents came in around the same time, close to 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

"We were stretched very thin tonight," said Assistant Chief Michael Hurley, who was in command at the fire scene.

"A department our size needs to be be able to handle a minimum of two major incidents at once ... and tonight, we were stretched to the limit."

Firefighters had to cut off the roof of this SUV to get to the man trapped inside. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

"So had there been another fire, we could have had real difficulties with the amount of people we had on shift tonight," he added.

However, Hurley said his crews did an excellent job of containing the fire, despite the stretched resources.

"It was a difficult fire to fight ...  we had to attack with hoses from three different areas," he said. 

'No call within the city went unanswered'

While the fire was burning, a second crew was busy rescuing a man trapped in his SUV after he rolled it into a ditch. 

The extrication was lengthy, requiring the jaws of life to cut open the roof of the vehicle to get to the driver.

Burnaby fire officials said they were close to having to call in extra firefighters.

"The fire event was likely a three or four hour event, which really cuts the department in half," said Deputy Chief Chris Bowcock, who showed up to the fire scene with extra food and water for his crews.

'No call within the city went unanswered,' said Deputy Chief Chris Bowcock. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

"We were starting to get close to the point where we would call in crews for overtime to staff up trucks."

Bowcock said it could take up to an hour to get an extra fire crew in place and operating, but they didn't have to resort to that.

Officials said no one was injured in the shed fire, and the driver of the SUV was taken to hospital in stable condition.

A man was the only person in an SUV when the crash happened. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)


Gian-Paolo Mendoza

Video Journalist

Gian-Paolo (GP) Mendoza is a video journalist with CBC Vancouver. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @gpsmendoza.