COURTENAY -- Firefighters on Mount Washington are crediting the proactiveness of condo users with helping to prevent a Thursday morning vehicle fire from getting out of hand.

Chris Hounsell of Oyster River Fire Rescue, which oversees fire protection on the mountain, says a truck fire erupted shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday morning on Cruikshank Ridge.

“We arrived on scene in our UTV with our trailer in tow and the vehicle was fully engulfed,” he said.

Hounsell says right now there’s just over three metres, or 10 feet, of snow covering hydrants on the mountain. He says they had to do some shovelling but the bulk of the effort had been done well ahead of time.

“It took us a little longer to get water on the fire due to the fire hydrant being buried but it was dug out well first by the residents, so we just had to do a little extra clearing,” he said. “If we had to dig all the way in, it could have been hours.”

He says the cause of the fire is under investigation but it appears the truck had been parked overnight.

According to ICBC, approximately 1,500 claims were filed across the province in both 2018 and 2019 for vehicle fires that were considered non-arson related.

He says in the colder environment of the mountain, sometimes people have their vehicles plugged in, or there could be a ground problem.

He also says vehicle placement can also play a role in preventing further damage.

“All the driveways are very close to the buildings so we were lucky that it did not engulf the building next to it as well,” he said.

Hounsell notes that the truck was backed into the parking stall which kept the motor compartment further away from the building.

“If you’re facing in, it might have been a worse outcome for sure,” he said.

He encourages anyone staying on the mountain to clear hydrants next to their buildings and chalets or contact someone if they’re unable to do so themselves.