Fast-acting military police officer snuffs fire

A military police officer starting a journey to Afghanistan this morning took a dangerous detour even before making it to the airport.

Driving from his home on Bear Mountain, Master Cpl. Karol Bastien noticed fire on a balcony of a house on Bear Mountain Parkway around 5:30 a.m. He stopped, banged on the door to alert the residents and then proceeded to extinguish the flames, averting a house fire.

Langford fire Chief Bob Beckett said Bastien definitely saved the deck and the house from serious damage. Fire broke out in a potted cedar tree planted in dry peat moss, which Beckett suspects was ignited by a cigarette.

“(The tree) caught on fire and burned down to the vinyl deck,” he said. “Certainly on a warm sunny day, the deck could have taken off and moved onto the house.”

The military police officer continued to the airport before officials could talk to him, and no one could say precisely how Bastien extinguished the fire. There was no evidence of an extinguisher. “He could have stomped it with his foot. We don’t know,” Beckett said.

The fire is considered accidental, damage was minor and no one was hurt.

“We appreciate the steps this soldier took and we wish him well in his deployment,” said Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz, with the West Shore RCMP.

Bastien, originally from Quebec, has been an MP since 2003 and has served at CFB Esquimalt since 2008. A spokesperson for CFB Esquimalt said he made his morning flight.

editor@goldstreamgazette.com