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Where there’s a Willis, there’s a way to douse a fire

Clearview Glass owner Murray Willis’ quick action helped prevent a grass fire from growing larger amid the dry conditions.
Valleyview grass fire
Murray Willis puts the final drops of water on the grass fire that was ignited on July 19 in the grassy area between the frontage road and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Valleyview business owner Murray Willis arrived at his Clearview Glass shop early in the morning this week to get a head start on his day’s work.

Within minutes of arriving on Monday, July 19, Willis experienced an adrenaline rush that was fuelled by something other than his morning cup of coffee.

Willis was interrupted by his brother and a customer with news there was a fire outside his 30-year-old business, on grass between the frontage road and the Trans-Canada Highway.

Willis immediately thought his truck was on fire.

He ran outside with a fire extinguisher and found the smoke and flames to be growing alongside the highway, right next to his truck and a customer’s vehicle.

After unsuccessful attempts to douse the flames with the use of water buckets, and then emptying the fire extinguisher, Willis grabbed a two-inch water hose from the car wash bay and finally extinguished the blaze.

“This thing started so fast and it spread so fast, like, in an hour it would have been burning down both ways, toward RTR [Performance] and toward Save-On [Foods],” Willis said. “It spread fast.”

Being a Valleyview resident, Willis recently experienced the reality of how quickly a fire can spread, having been on evacuation alert during the Canada Day wildfire between Juniper Ridge and Valleyview wildfire.

Willis posted about the incident outside his business on the Valleyview Facebook page, noting he assumed the fire was sparked by a carelessly discarded cigarette butt.

“A bunch of people got all bent out of shape, saying we were accusing smokers of doing it and that we don’t like smokers,” Willis said. “You know what? If you smoke, I hope you have enough brains to put it out in your car.”

Asked by KTW whether he feels the grassy areas along the frontage road are being adequately maintained by the city amid the extremely, dry weather conditions, Willis replied: “You know, the problem with Valleyview here, I think it kinda gets missed. They mow it about twice a year and when they mow it, they take it right to the dirt and then it kind of dies and goes brown. It never really looks nice and green. What they did cut before is all dead. It’s just really super dry.”

Willis wants to remind everyone to be cognizant of properly putting out cigarette butts and other flammable materials.