COURTENAY -- Three people are safe after the vehicle they were driving in caught fire along the Inland Island Highway (Hwy 19) in the Comox Valley on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex, the vehicle was heading southbound, just north of the turnoff to Mount Washington, when the car started experiencing mechanical difficulties.

"There was a vibration under the car and then it started smoking," Bardonnex says. "There was one adult and two children in the vehicle. They got out safely."

An RCMP vehicle happened upon the scene and was the first to attempt to put the fire out, but it couldn't be extinguished.

"The whole front end and the interior compartment were burning upon our arrival," says the fire chief.

Southbound traffic was delayed for approximately one hour while crews dealt with the vehicle. Some vehicles were able to turn around as the incident happened near an emergency turn-around.

The vehicle was believed to be a Nissan Ultima and was destroyed.

"This one is obviously some sort of a mechanical issue or electrical issue – but the fact everyone got out safely and they weren't worried about the car and were worried about themselves was great," says Bardonnex.