Dean Ulmer’s relaxing night of video gaming turned into a mad dash in search of victims, Tuesday, August 2.
While relaxing in his living room, Ulmer heard a loud bang from outside his Greendale Road residence in Lake Cowichan, at about 10 p.m.
After looking out his front door to the property two houses down, Ulmer said, “You could immediately see the glow.”
Because emergency personnel had yet to arrive, Ulmer decided to take things into his own hands and see if there was anyone on site that needed help.
The long-time Greendale Road resident saw one person in a trailer at the rear of the property, who seemed startled by the tall flames coming out of a large shop near the front of the property.
The trailer suffered heat damage as a result of the shop fire. A small blaze started on the trailer, but police were able to put it out before the Lake Cowichan Fire Department got to it.
“It was a mushroom fire that went up major,” Ulmer said. “At its peak the flames were twice as high as the building itself.”
Property owner Mike Scholey operated a mushroom buyer businesses out of the shop that went up in flames that gutted the building. Scholey was out of province at the time of the incident, but has since returned to town.
After doing a quick sweep of the property, Ulmer stood back and let the professionals do what they do.
The Lake Cowichan Fire Department and Lake Cowichan RCMP arrived on site shortly after the fire was called in by a neighbour. The shop was fully engulfed in flames and could not be saved. The Lake Cowichan Fire Department’s volunteers did, however, manage to successfully protect surrounding buildings from catching fire.
Lake Cowichan RCMP Cpl. Krista Hobday reported four people in the vicinity of the fire; one of whom the surprised person Ulmer had found in the trailer. There were two others in a recreational vehicle on site, and another was in the basement of a residence at the front of the property watching television, unaware that there was a fire going on nearby.
Hobday reports no injuries related to the fire, with everyone accounted for.
The fire is being treated as suspicious, and there is an ongoing investigation being undertaken by the Fire Marshall and the Lake Cowichan RCMP.
“The property is very well known to police,” Hobday said.
There are currently no suspects.
What makes the 10 p.m. fire more unusual is that another suspicious fire took place a half hour earlier, at about 9:30 p.m.
This first fire took place at the Stanley Gordon Elementary School, located uphill from the Lake Cowichan Secondary School off of South Shore Road.
A small fire had been spotted on the roof of the Stanley Gordon Elementary School. Police were able to extinguish the fire before the Lake Cowichan Fire Department arrived on site.
Wednesday afternoon, while security guards patrolled the charred remains of the Greendale Road mushroom shop, a neighbour was seen searching the site for a few missing animals that were known to have lived on the property.
She set out a tin of tuna for a missing deaf white cat named Solitaire, and noted that chickens and a llama were also known to have lived on the property.