Car explosion, farm fires keep Chilliwack firefighters busy

Two farm fires and an explosion that sent one man to hospital spell a busy weekend for Chilliwack firefighers.

The start of Fire Prevention Week in Chilliwack was a busy one for local firefighters.

In addition to the demonstration and open houses held to mark the event, the fire department responded to three calls: Two farm fires and one vehicle fire.

The vehicle fire, which rocked a downtown neighbourhood at 8 p.m. Saturday and sent one man to hospital, was initially thought to be criminal in nature, said Chilliwack RCMP. The explosion could be felt more than a block away, and debris was spread 30 metres from the incident.

When firefighters arrived at the home, located in the 46000 block of Riverside Drive, the lone occupant of the car was lying on the ground outside the vehicle, injured but conscious. He was taken to hospital with minor burns.

Chilliwack RCMP evacuated nearby homes as a precaution, and both the bomb squad and the dog unit were called in to help with the investigation.

That investigation concluded the explosion was likely caused by a leaking fuel line. When the vehicle was started, vapours from the leak ignited, leading to the explosion.  A mechanical Inspection has been requested for the vehicle to determin the specific cause of the fire, police say.

The two farm fires both had similar origins: overheated silage. The largest of the two occurred just before 2 a.m Sunday in the 11000 block of Jespersen Ave. Spontaneous combustion is being blamed for the blaze, which kept firefighters busy for 12 hours. Four large silage bunkers were burned to the ground, while silage in two other cement bunkers was damaged.

The fire did not spread to the cattle barns where over 450 head of cattle were housed.   There were no civilian or firefighter injuries.   Several fire crews were called in to help contain the blaze, with assistance coming from five of the six Chilliwack fire halls, and a water tender from the Popkum Fire Department.

A second incident occurred within three blocks of the earlier fire at around 5 p.m. Sunday. A smoldering fire in a silage bunker was spotted by the farmer during his daily work.  Firefighters attended the 48000 block of Camp River Road and overhauled the bunker to extinguish the fire with relative ease. Damage to the bunker was minor. There were no civilian or firefighter injuries.