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.

Just Posted

Chilliwack Chiefs grind out 2-1 win over Langley Rivermen

The BCHL’s top team won their 20th game of the season behind excellent goaltending from Mathieu Caron

Budget process includes community engagement aspect

Deadline is Nov. 28 to offer input into council financial plan considerations for 2019

WATCH: Reaching out to vulnerable in Chilliwack was key at UFV Health and Wellness Fair

UFV students were handing out pizza, naloxone kits, flu shots, toothbrushes, books, clothes and more

Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada arrives in the Fraser Valley

Could the upstart party give the federal Liberals a chance in otherwise safe Conservative ridings?

10 years jail for B.C. man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Ryan Armstrong claimed in Chilliwack court to victim’s family the drug-addled crime was an accident

Feds give formal notice for law to end Canada Post strike

Trudeau government ready to legislate employees back to work after five weeks of rotating strikes

Getzlaf lifts Ducks to 4-3 win over skidding Canucks

Vancouver now winless since Nov. 8

Pressure builds for B.C. to recognize physicians assistants

“We can make a difference and I think we’re being overlooked.”

Senators urge Trump to expedite congressional vote on USMCA

The 12 Republican senators are warning of the dangers of getting the trade pact approved in 2019

Bill just one tool to deter foreign interference in Canadian elections: Gould

Bill C-76 is just one means to deter outside interference in Canadian elections

Investigation into B.C. legislature officers began in January

RCMP brought in months after former prison administrator started

Legal challenge filed over high-stakes competition to design $60B warships

The federal government had originally said it wanted a “mature design” for its new warship fleet, which was widely interpreted as meaning a vessel that has already been built and used by another navy.

‘There has to be accountability’: victims of sterilization demand action

Morningstar Mercredi says she woke up from a surgery at 14 and immediately broke down when she discovered the baby she once felt inside of her was gone.

Former B.C. crime reporter pens debut children’s book

Thom Barker channels his giant dog’s phobias into theme exploring critical thinking

Most Read