The call came into the McLeese Lake volunteer fire department — a vehicle had knocked over a hydro pole on the side of a highway, sparking a 400-metre blaze.
Fire personnel jumped into a yellow pumper truck so they could attend to it.
But then the truck wouldn’t start.
Coverage of wildfires on Globalnews.ca:
At first, fire chief Ian Hicks thought the truck might have flooded.
Then he noticed the fuel gauge wasn’t moving.
“That’s impossible,” he recounted to Global News. He had parked the truck full of fuel just six days prior, and it hadn’t been used since then.
Hicks jumped out of the truck and knocked the fuel tank — sure enough, it was empty, the gas siphoned before it could reach its call.
“I was a little bit lost for words there,” he said.
“Extreme desperation, lack of compassion for fellow man, yes, lowlife… probably there’s a lot of words you could use for that.”
The fire department eventually made it to the scene with another truck — its tank, too, had been drained, but it had just enough fuel to make it to the scene.
Once there, fire personnel had to watch the fire grow for an hour — it eventually hit 500 metres — before they could tackle it, owing to the dangers of crossed wires.
Using irrigation water from a nearby ranch, they managed to extinguish the fire.
Hicks plans on installing a camera at the place where the fire department currently keeps its trucks — the department doesn’t have its own fire hall.
But that could change if the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) approves the construction of a fire hall on a piece of property in McLeese Lake.
If all goes as planned, “we’re going to build a hall and we won’t have to worry about a lot of these challenges anymore.”
The gas theft came as gas prices hover around $1.40 per litre in the Cariboo region, according to Gasbuddy.com.
But that’s not the only place where gas has been stolen recently.
In April, gas thieves in Langley had stolen fuel by drilling into people’s tanks.