Seniors use cooler, creek water to fight B.C. wildfire until help arrives
SURREY, B.C. -- It’s not every day a pair of seniors tackle a wildfire.
But that’s exactly what happened to Surrey’s 83-year-old Dave Hall and 74-year-old Sigrun Cowan, who jumped into action after spotting smoke between Pemberton and Lillooet last month.
They were on a road trip when the situation unfolded Aug. 17.
“All of a sudden I said to Dave, ‘Dave, look over there, there’s some smoke,’” explained Cowan.
They pulled onto a service road and Hall jumped out to get a closer look.
“I saw the flames. Some of them were almost two feet high,” Hall said.
Armed with nothing more than an old cooler from his car, he started scooping water from a nearby creek to douse the flames.
“At that point, I didn’t know whether I could control that fire but I’d try and do the best I could,” he recalled in an interview with CTV News Vancouver.
Meanwhile, with no cell service in the area, Cowan tried flagging down other motorists.
“I’m going like this,” she says, waving her arms in the air. “And nobody’s stopping. I couldn’t believe it.”
“I was in panic mode there for a while, and then she came back and said, ‘I can’t find anybody,’ and I say ‘I can’t leave this fire. You have to go and get somebody … because I’m going to lose it, it’s going to get out of control pretty soon,’” Hall said.
Cowan ended up driving until she had cell service and was able to put in an emergency call.
When BC Wildfire Service crews arrived, it took them a couple hours to extinguish the small blaze, which was later dubbed the Cinnamon Creek Fire, a wildfire information officer told CTV News.
“They set up a water pump and were able to use hand tools and water to suppress any of the remaining hot spots,” explained Gagan Lidhran of the Kamloops Fire Centre.
She says people need to consider their safety when trying to suppress a fire, but she also had praise for the pair.
“The BC Wildfire Service extends a huge ‘thank you’ to the two individuals in question. We’re very grateful and appreciate of their efforts,” said Gagan, adding that the Cinnamon Creek Fire is believed to be human-caused.
The ordeal left Hall exhausted, but the Surrey senior says he’d do it all again if he had to.