The engine of a disposal truck malfunctioned Tuesday morning in the parking lot of University Heights Shopping Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

UPDATED: Truck driver escapes injury after engine suffers smoky breakdown in Saanich

Incident happened in the parking lot of University Heights Shopping Centre

Anti-freeze and oil spilled across a busy Saanich parking lot Tuesday morning after the engine of a bin truck broke down.

The male driver of the Alpine Group disposal truck, hauling scrap metal, tried but couldn’t shut down the failing engine. The motor ran for about 10 minutes before stopping and resulted in a large cloud of smoke that could be seen in the University Heights Shopping Centre parking lot.

Capt. Jeevan Manhas of the Saanich Fire Department explained that they were initially called to a dump truck fire in the mall parking lot, but discovered it was a bin truck upon arrival. The energy was hectic as onlookers thought the truck was on fire and some were concerned it may explode, he said. However, no flames were encountered.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s 2019 forest fire season off to a slow, wet start

The driver had gotten himself out of the truck when the fire department arrived and he explained that the turbo was “stuck in the active position” which was creating a lot of heat, said Manhas.

The high heat turned any water and oil on the engine into steam and smoke, which is what onlookers saw, he explained. Hoses were used to cool the engine compartment and the smoke and steam dissipated quickly.

The fire crews then turned their attention to the storm drain nearby. The water sprayed on the truck would have picked up pollutants, he explained, and there is an environmental concern if that goes into the drain. Crews buffered the storm drain with absorbent pads that are kept on hand and contacted Saanich Public Works to alert them, said Manhas. Once the fire department was satisfied that the Alpine crews could take over handling the spill, they left.

Alpine crews responded by covering the surrounding area with a white, absorbent powder and then sweeping up the spill. Other crew members could be seen working on the Alpine truck which still hadn’t been moved from the site.

The driver of the truck was able to avoid any injuries but appeared shaken Tuesday morning.

Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement officers also responded to the scene in the centre’s parking lot, across from the new CIBC branch that recently opened on Shelbourne Street.

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