Kamloops This Week
A Kamloops couple that helped douse a grass fire before it spread on Shuswap Road was in the right place at the right time with the right boat.
Engaged couple Tasha Hunt, 33, and Koyne Watson, 43, is being heralded a hero after co-piloting their 1987 Eliminator Scorpion jet boat on the South Thompson River on Saturday to help Kamloops Fire Rescue douse flames of a grass fire that sparked on Shuswap Road. The couple had been taking their boat for a test drive on the water at about 4 p.m. when they saw smoke.
“We saw it smouldering and we thought, ‘Oh my god, there’s a fire!’” Hunt told KTW in an interview. “So we phoned it in and we headed over there. The flames had taken off. We spun the boat around. He [Watson] just started making passes. He was going around and around. He said, ‘Oh my god, am I getting it?’ I said, ‘Koyne! You’re putting out the flames!’”
The couple did about eight loops, overheating and damaging their boat engine after hitting the gas and shooting river water onto the flames. Sometimes they missed, but other shots were a direct hit.
“We probably did it about eight times,” Hunt said. “But I think we probably only did about four or five direct hits.”
Other boaters watched and filmed the action. The following Facebook video shot from a nearby boat has more than 100,000 views and has been shared almost 2,000 times.
Those who have commented on the video are calling the feat brilliant, impressive and quick-thinking.
“Whomever you are, you are my hero,” wrote one commenter.
Watson is owner of Cobra Heavy Iron excavating company and Hunt is a hair stylist at Ardeo Spa Salon. Watson lent a hand battling the historic regional blazes of 2003 — but has never doused flames from the water.
“He’s a smart-thinking man, I tell you,” Hunt said. “He’s quick on his feet. I would have never thought of that.”
Watson focused on driving, while Hunt navigated.
“We are always co-piloting,” Watson said.
Other boaters cheered from their vessels on the river. A nearby pontoon boat filled with kids calling Watson a “hero” could not have performed the feat of the couple’s jet boat, known for its speed and equipped with a 555 engine and 8-71 blower.
“I can shoot water up in the air,” Watson said.
Kamloops Fire Rescue platoon captain David Ferguson said crews, with assistance from a forestry helicopter, arrived on scene after the call. The fire temporarily closed Shuswap Road in both directions, but the grass fire was extinguished quickly.
While Ferguson was not at the scene, he said fires in these hot and dry conditions move quickly and any help — when it is safe to do so — can prevent fires from spreading before crews can arrive on scene.
“As long as you’re not endangering people on the water, any chance we can get to help keep the fire from progressing helps,” Ferguson said.