Stranded motorists waited for hours on Sooke Road as fire fighters battled a blaze that destroyed a house at 5158 Sooke Road on Thursday, July 31. Sooke Fire and Rescue responded to the call at around 4:38 p.m.
The fire was fought by more than 45 fire fighters from all of the area’s fire halls, plus a small crew from forestry.
“It was a couple of hours of pretty intense fire fighting,” said Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from East Sooke.
Sorensen said it wasn’t just the house that caught fire but also an RV, garage and car. A boat on the property was slightly damaged.
On Friday he said they were at the scene trying to determine the cause.
What kept the road closed for so long were the spot fires which were being discovered as they fought the major blaze. Sorensen said four other spot fires were started and one was pretty big at 3,000 to 4,000 feet on the hill behind the house fire. Fire fighters were successful in putting out a fire that was 30 feet from another house up the hill.
They returned around midnight to put out a stump fire.
There are no fire hydrants in that portion of Sooke Road and crews had to get water into the pumper trucks from a large storage tank at West Coast Tire and from a 10,000 litre storage tank the district has around the corner. Trucks also pumped water from the closest hydrant at Coopers Cove.
“It was a great job of cooperation and teamwork between everybody,” said Sorensen. “It was tough to handle and the guys did a remarkable job.” Sorensen said it was a lot of work when water had to be shuttled.
Sooke fire fighters left the scene at about 9:30 p.m.
He also gave kudos to the RCMP and Mainroad Contracting.
At the time of the fire the line of commuters coming back into Sooke stretched to the end of the four-lanes. Single lane traffic was in effect at about 7:30 p.m. but it was slow going. Buses in and out of Sooke were stopped until clearance was given to proceed in either direction.
One rather frustrated Sooke resident said he waited five and a half hours in the lineup to get back to Sooke.
“I’m telling you this was unreal,” said Gordon Stewart. “They said it was one-way traffic and we counted 250 cars going to Victoria from Sooke. Our lane never moved.”
He said he understood propane tanks blew up but said they weren’t going to take out Sooke Road.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” he said in regard to the traffic control. He said it was time that the four lanes was completed all the way into Sooke.
“We’re not a bedroom community anymore. This is a wake up call,” he said in frustration. “It was a bit of a fiasco.