‘Boom, it just went crazy’: Comox gas station erupts in flames after car hits fuel pump

'Boom, it just went crazy': Comox gas station erupts in flames after car hits fuel pump
Photo: Dean Stoltz/CHEK News
A Comox gas station is in ruins after it burst into flames Saturday, May 20, 2023.

Dozens of people were evacuated late Saturday after a gas station in Comox erupted in flames.

Lt. Brent Craven with the Comox Fire Department says the call to the Esso at 648 Anderton Rd. initially came in as a motor vehicle incident but was soon upgraded to a full structure fire.

“Upon arrival, we had a fully involved gas station. Explosions were coming from the building,” Craven said in an interview.

“We had heavy smoke moving towards the nearby apartment building, which RCMP evacuated quickly.”

Local residents fled their apartments and nearby homes as fire crews from Courtenay and Cumberland also battled the blaze.

Craven says people at the gas station suffered minor injuries. When speaking with CHEK News, he wasn’t sure who had been hurt but noted no firefighters were injured.

“Obviously, fuel was a main concern for us,” he added. “I’m unaware at this time what valves were shut off. There were large propane tanks at the rear of the structure that we were able to turn off afterwards.”

Around 7 p.m., a CHEK News reporter captured video of fire crews arriving on scene:

The plume of smoke was visible throughout the Comox Valley, including in Royston:

Justin Howard lives behind the gas station and was enjoying a nice quiet evening before the fire broke out.

“I was just sitting on the back patio and initially, I heard screaming and yelling and thought maybe someone was having an argument,” recalled Howard.

“Next thing I heard was sirens and then boom, it just went crazy,” he said. “There was black smoke within seconds.”

Firefighters brought the blaze under control about an hour later and no adjacent buildings were damaged, though Garlic & Pepper, an eatery serving traditional Korean dishes, was attached to the gas station and also destroyed in the fire.

Comox Mayor Nicole Minions posted a statement to Facebook around 9 p.m. Saturday reminding people to stay clear of the area.

“We are grateful for the commitment of our local and regional fire departments and first responders in their actions this evening,” wrote Minions. “Sending the small business owners our thoughts and community support this evening and into the future.”

Comox Fire officials say the blaze was caused by a driver who hit a fuel pump after pressing the accelerator in her car instead of the brake.


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Dean StoltzDean Stoltz
Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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