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VIDEO: UPDATE: Fire at OK Tire thought to be caused by person trying to get warm

Crews from six fire halls called out just before 4 a.m.
Fire tore into the OK Tire on Norcross Road in North Cowichan early Sunday morning. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Firefighters from six Cowichan Valley halls are being lauded for their efforts in saving some of the OK Tire inventory after flames engulfed the building early Sunday morning, July 2.

“They did an awesome job, they need to be commended for sure,” said North Cowichan manager of fire and bylaw Martin Drakeley.

Crews from Ladysmith, Chemainus, Crofton, South End, Maple Bay and Duncan rushed to the tire shop to help after receiving the call out at 3:47 a.m.

Alex Sadim was driving home from work around 4:30 a.m. when he saw the blaze. At that point fire crews were already there.

“It looked as though a large portion of the building had been engulfed by flames,” Sadim said. “The flames extended well into the air above the roof of the building, with a large pyre of black smoke. The firefighters were using the nozzles on the end of their ladders to spray water down from above.”

Drakeley explained that a large stock of tires on the outside of the building was what really stoked the flames.

“It looked very impressive but crews managed to knock it down quickly,” Drakeley said. “It did get into the interior but it was not as bad as it actually looked.”

As a result, traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway north of Duncan was detoured around the scene on Norcross Road. Drinkwater Road between Norcross and the Highway was also closed. The roads have since re-opened.

Drakeley said approximately 45 firefighters from six halls used three ladder trucks and eight fire engines to extinguish the blaze.

By 7:30 a.m. the crews had the fire knocked down. Then they went in to take stock “of the viability of the building and what the structural damage is and to take some inventory,” Drakeley said. “They were able to save a lot of the brand new tire stock on the second floor which would be a big hit to the owner.”

The investigation into the cause of the fire began Monday, Drakeley confirmed.

“This matter continues to be under investigation, however at this time it appears this was an instance of an accidental fire that was the result of a warming fire that became too big and spread to the building,” said North Cowichan/Duncan RMCP Cpl. Cari Lougheed

The Duncan OK Tire store, owned and operated by Robert Nikirk, was the 2018 Pacific Region store of the year.