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Vehicle rolls over and catches fire along the highway south of Nanaimo

Cranberry fire chief credits water truck driver with knocking down flames and limiting fire damage
Cranberry and North Cedar volunteer fire departments responded to two rollover crashes on the Trans-Canada Highway south of Nanaimo the afternoon of Thursday, July 28, including one in which an SUV caught fire. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Rolled-over vehicles on the Trans-Canada Highway south of Nanaimo tied up emergency responders and traffic Thursday afternoon, July 28.

Cranberry and North Cedar volunteer fire departments rushed to a crash on the highway shortly before 5 p.m., about one kilometre south of the Morden Road intersection in South Wellington after two northbound SUVs went off the road, rolled over and came to rest in a hay field where one of the vehicles, with two people and a dog inside, caught on fire.

Ron Gueulette, chief of Cranberry Fire Department, said it appeared one of the vehicles was speeding and cut off the other vehicle. Both SUVs rolled, though one ended up back on its wheels.

The hay field was dry with high risk of the fire spreading and Gueulette said because of the heavy traffic backed up by the crash and location of the crash site, there was difficulty getting fire apparatus on scene quickly.

“We were quite lucky there was a guy with a water truck going down the road. He stopped … and he laid a [water] line across and knocked the fire down, because we couldn’t get there because of the traffic,” the fire chief said. “It all worked out good. There was a dog that took off up the highway, but they managed to, later on, get hold of the dog and two people weren’t hurt too bad and the other guy ran away … The whole thing is very, very fortunate it didn’t get way worse.”

Both people in the SUV that caught fire were taken to hospital with unknown injuries.

Northbound and southbound traffic was backed up nearly two kilometres in each direction until the scene was cleared.

Earlier in the afternoon, Cranberry and North Cedar firefighters responded to another rollover crash that backed up southbound traffic after southbound SUV drove off the road and into a ditch at highway speed and landed on its roof, Gueulette said. That crash happened at about 3 p.m. south of Minetown Road.

A man and woman in the vehicle were taken to hospital with unknown injuries. The crash was possibly caused by a medical condition on the part of the driver, the fire chief said.

The News Bulletin reached out to RCMP for comment.

READ ALSO: Trans-Canada Highway south lanes closed by crash in Cobble Hill

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