A wall of flame, accompanied by huge plumes of thick, black smoke that soared into the sky and could be seen for miles, torched a golf cart storage facility at the Mount Brenton Golf Club in Chemainus Wednesday afternoon.
Needless to say, it was “fully involved,” Chemainus Fire Department Chief Al Irwin said when his crews arrived, with assistance from the Crofton and Ladysmith departments.
The enormity of the fire created several concerns for firefighters before tackling it.
“I’m not sure what’s in there for timbers,” noted Irwin.
“Lots of plastic in there and stuff,” he added.
On top of that, the carts themselves were a mixture of electric and gas, and the hydro wasn’t even shut off, Irwin noted, as firemen began their assault on the blaze.
Tires on the carts could be heard popping amid the loud crackle of the fire.
“We were initially a little concerned about the houses on the other side of the road as well,” Irwin added.
And then there were the numerous trees surrounding the facility. Some upper branches caught fire but, fortunately, conditions are not yet that dry, so the Ladysmith ladder truck, stationed on the side of the Henry Road hill, pumped water to put out the hotspots.
Firemen brought the entire situation down from an inferno to a smoldering rubble rather quickly, considering the conditions.
“We got some wind today, it doesn’t help,” reasoned Irwin.
The time of day, with the call coming in at 3:48 p.m., left the Chemainus department without a full complement of personnel. About 20 Chemainus firefighters attended, and Irwin and deputy chief Kevin Millard just got back from an ammonia course in Duncan when the call went out.
There’s plenty of speculation about the cause, from the battery chargers used for the karts to the gas that powers some of the vehicles to sparks in the back corner of the building from the hydro. But it’s so badly burned, the cause will probably never be definitely determined, Irwin indicated, and an excavator was brought in to level the remnants of the building.
“It’s the only way to take it apart,” Irwin explained at the scene. “We can’t go in. It’s too unsafe.”
No one was inside the facility at the time and there were no injuries to anyone in the vicinity or the firemen.
Some nearby cars were parked in harm’s way, but managed to elude any extensive damage.
Hordes of people gathered in the vicinity to take pictures or document the scene on video, but Irwin was pleased everyone steered clear.
“We haven’t had that much attention for a while,” he said. “Everybody was really good.”
Frequent calls are keeping the Chemainus department on its toes.
“We have been so busy since November,” noted Irwin.
That’s included two other major fires at a house on Waynes Road in December and the Jones Marine fire on the Chemainus waterfront earlier this year.