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Bus catches fire on Hwy 16, stranding tourists; B.C. firefighters respond

No one was injured in July 16 blaze
The charred tour bus smoulders on Hwy 16 near Skeena West after a midday fire on July 16 that left 37 international tourists stranded. There were no injuries and the Thornhill Fire Department was quick to respond, helping passengers get back on the road within seven hours. (Thornhill Fire Department photo)

Members of the Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department, their families and support services played host to a group of international tourists temporarily stranded in the area July 16 after their high-end tour bus was destroyed by fire midday.

The Prevost model bus was travelling east of Thornhill on Hwy 16 when it caught fire near Skeena West, leaving little time for the 37 tourists, driver and guides, to get out, said Thornhill Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Boehm.

“Basically he [driver] looked in his rear-view mirror, saw the flames [at the rear], pulled over and everyone got out,” he said.

There were no injuries.

The bus is a write off and passengers on board lost possessions, passports and other documents, Boehm added. A cause is not yet known.

One Thornhill fire truck and a water tender were called to the fire just before noon July 16. An ambulance was also sent as were the RCMP.

Vehicle fires are not uncommon but it has been years since one of this size required the Thornhill Fire Department to be called out, Boehm said.

The stranded tour group was taken to the Thornhill hall via taxis and other transport organized by the tour company where members of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine’s emergency support services were on hand.

“Our members and support services really stepped up,” said Boehm as the group settled in to await new transport. Meal service came via the Northern Motor Inn’s kitchen.

Boehm said the group was back on the road to their Smithers destination within seven hours of the incident.

“Everything worked out quite quickly,” said Boehm in adding that despite the circumstances, the response and assistance provided afterward was a good result.

About the Author: Rod Link

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