Central Okanagan  

Burning bus hero

What started out as a quiet drive home on a hot summer day turned into a call to action for Dave Bulmer.

Bulmer was travelling along the Okanagan Connector on Saturday, August 11, when he came upon a Greyhound bus that was on fire.

"I figured I've got to do something," says Bulmer who stopped and ran over to help the bus driver and his passengers as they escaped the bus.

"Hats off to that driver for getting everyone off. He grabbed his log books and everything so he could account for all the passengers."

The driver told Bulmer he could smell smoke coming from the back and that led him to stop the bus and start the evacuation.

"There was a little bit of smoke and just a few flames trickling from the engine, but within seconds it had gone to the back tires of the bus."

Bulmer called 9-1-1 and then started flagging down traffic to warn oncoming cars of the danger ahead.

The flames eventually ignited the fuel tanks, creating an explosion which blew out the windows in the back of the bus.

"When the tanks did go, there was a heck of a bang and it shook the ground. It was loud. Had you been driving by at the time, it just would have melted (your car)," says Bulmer.

"When it started going up in flames, then the windows started blowing out of it from the heat. Then there was a loud hissing sound and about one foot round circular flames, but about eight feet long, started shooting out across the highway from the bottom of the bus."

While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, Bulmer noticed a trail of liquid behind the bus.

"Going back down the highway you could see what appeared to be either diesel fuel or oil on the road coming up to the bus. Obviously something had snapped or caused a leak and climbing that hill or maybe the heat of the engine ignited it."

As for the passengers, Bulmer says they were shook up a bit, but generally appeared all right in spite of the sudden exit.

"We made sure that they were all up the highway and made sure they stayed there. They had their personals, their handbags and carry-ons with them but as for any luggage underneath, there was no getting to that."

Bulmer is a warehouse manager for Shanahan's Building Specialties in Kelowna and admits he's never done anything quite like this before.

"My Dad was a US Marine and he taught me you just stop if people need help. I don't know, maybe it was the adrenaline or whatever, but I felt that I just had to do that. If you can save lives or help, it's definitely worth it." 

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