Four people watch the fire at the Cona Hostel from Lewis Park on Saturday, March 23rd, 2019. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
COURTENAY, BC- Race runners in the Comox Valley ended up in a smoky situation on Saturday.
During a weekend 5k race put on by the Road Runners, events were coming to an end when volunteers at the end of the line noticed smoke coming from the Cona Hostel, located just down the street.
Bystanders automatically called 9-1-1.
Before they knew it flames were coming from the hostel’s roof, according to Leslie Dargie, 5k clinic coordinator for the Road Runners.
“We had a couple of firefighters in the group whose wives were running in the 5k,” said Dargie.
“They went in to get the people out. There were four or five residents still in there sleeping and they got those folks out.”
Soon after emergency services arrived, the race team then helped provide crowd control.
“We felt like good community members,” said Dargie.
“We fed our racers with our race food but there was left overs and we took it over to the firefighters, which was a nice touch. They were appreciative to have a little bit of grub.”
The fire crew was very grateful for the help and support, according to Courtenay fire chief Don Bardonnex.
“That was awesome, it impressed the hell out of me,” he said, at the scene.
The racers and firefighters worked together throughout the day.
“They were very patient with us finishing our race right around their fire hydrant,” said Dargie.
The 5k race was able to finish and on Sunday the half marathon was able to take place without a hitch.
“It was quite surreal for those folks finishing, looking at their finish line engulfed in black smoke, but it was something that they will never forget,” said Dargie.
“It’s probably the first time I have seen about one hundred people running into an emergency scene rather than away from one.”