A truck caught fire on the Malahat on Tuesday afternoon. (Google Maps)

A truck caught fire on the Malahat on Tuesday afternoon. (Google Maps)

Malahat truck fire not necessarily caused by cigarette

Social media speculation blaming driver could be inaccurate

Reports on social media that a truck fire on the Trans-Canada Highway on Tuesday was started by a cigarette tossed from the cab may be inaccurate, according to the chief of the Malahat Volunteer Fire Department.

The driver, who escaped without injury, told Malahat fire chief Tanya Patterson at the scene that he isn’t a smoker. He did have some household garbage in the back of the pickup, she said, but there was likely no way to know what caused the blaze.

The truck caught fire as it travelled south on the highway shortly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, but the driver didn’t pull over immediately. He told Patterson that he knew the truck was on fire, but he was looking for the best place to pull over where he wouldn’t impede traffic and where emergency vehicles would have easy access to his truck.

He also told Patterson that he knew the conditions were dry and didn’t want the flames to spread to the brush.

“He actually picked the perfect place to pull over,” Patterson said.

Duncan’s Michelle Combdon was driving behind the truck. She didn’t see what caused the fire, but she honked her horn repeatedly when she saw the first wisps of smoke, trying to get the driver’s attention. Within minutes, she said, flames were rising out of the bed of the truck.

“It was like something from a movie,” Combdon said.

Cpl. Dave Williams, the interim detachment commander of the Shawnigan Lake RCMP, cautioned people against blaming the driver.

“It sounds like there has been some speculation,” he said. “But we haven’t determined a cause.”