A Powell River bus driver says it took a team effort to put out a potentially out-of-control brush fire.
On Sept. 1st, Debi Gaylard was driving the route 12 Stillwater bus northbound on Highway 101 when she came around a bend in the road and saw plumes of smoke.
“I couldn’t drive through it because I couldn’t see where I was going,” she said. “So I just stopped, and I got out to see what was going on and there was a woman saying, saying there is a fire here.”
“I do have a first-aid ticket,” she said. “I didn’t know what was on fire so I was running up to see if everyone was okay, until I saw that it was a brush fire.”
Realizing it could take some time for fire crews to arrive, Gaylard grabbed the fire extinguisher from the bus.
Gaylard is recovering from a thumb injury, so she needed help from another person to activate the extinguisher and quickly douse the fire.
Between them, they stopped a small fire from becoming a much larger problem.
Gaylard said the person who put out the fire is the real hero.
“Kudos to him, he is the one who really needs to be praised, here,” Gaylard said. “It’s like hay along the highway – just like hay, and it was going when I was standing there, and one of the young kids (on scene) was trying to stomp on it which was not a smart idea. (He was saying) ‘I’m getting burnt.’”
“We emptied the fire extinguisher on the fire on the side of the road,” she explained. “It was a brush fire but it was going rapidly because it’s so dry. The fire department did arrive after me, I was told, so they did have to put it out but. I just stopped it from spreading like crazy.”
The only passengers on the bus at the time were a mom and her two young children and they stayed inside as the scene played out.
“I told her I was going to help out and she had no problem with it, at all,” Gaylard said.
After driving a bus on the Lower Mainland for about 20 years, Gaylard moved to Powell River and has been driving there for about two years.
While she’s never needed to use her fire extinguisher before, Gaylard says she was ready to act when her community needed her.