The driver of a fully loaded lumber truck is being credited with averting a larger disaster when his truck caught fire Wednesday afternoon.
The driver from Island Pacific Transport Ltd. in Ladysmith was travelling up Redford Street, past 10th Avenue, on his way out of Port Alberni shortly before 3:30 p.m. when he smelled fuel. He turned onto a side road to get out of traffic and was headed down Maitland toward Berk’s Intertruck on Sixth Avenue when the engine began smoking, Port Alberni Fire Department officer Les Norden said.
“At that time he said the fire was too big for his fire extinguisher.”
The cab of the truck was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived, however the load of lumber seemed untouched.
Norden credited the driver, who declined to give his name, for his quick thinking in turning onto the side roads.
“If he would have stayed on the main thoroughfare it would have backed up traffic for blocks and blocks and blocks,” he said. “It was quick thinking on his part.”
Island Pacific Transport operations manager Dave Parhar said the driver was not hurt in the incident, but the truck is likely a total writeoff. He said the fire looks to have started in the fuel system.
The driver has been with Island Pacific for 15 years. “He’s really a credit to his profession,” Parhar said.
Parhar added that he was thankful fire crews reacted so quickly. The fire hall is located at 10th Avenue and Bute Street, about three blocks away from where the truck caught fire.