Firefighters managed to put out a fire at Saratoga Speedway following a rollover on June 16, 2019. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Department

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Two businessmen were racing around the tracks at Saratoga Speedway on Father’s Day before one of their sports cars veered off the track and crashed, bursting into flames that spread to nearby trees.

Quick action by firefighters from Oyster River Fire Rescue managed to prevent the blaze from spreading further, said Fire Chief Bruce Green. Flames from the BMW had reached perhaps 10-15 feet in height as Green arrived at the racetrack on Sunday night.

“It was right at the base of three or four big fir trees, and right on the edge of the forest,” Green said. “Some of the trees were starting to go up when the crews arrived.”

Green captured photos and video showing a car fully consumed by flames while on its side among trees, bushes, dry grass and old tires, with flames visible on at least two trees.

A dozen firefighters were involved in the operation, using water and foam to put out the fire, Green said.

Saratoga Speedway owner Paul Hargrave said two Victoria-based businessmen approached him recently about using the track for training.

“They asked me if my track would be available for some corner training, and I said ‘of course it would be,’” Hargrave said, adding that they were driving a Porsche and a BMW.

The men drive at tracks around the Pacific Northwest, and they brought their daughter and son, respectively, to the speedway to mark Father’s Day, Hargrave said.

The driver of the BMW lost control as he rounded a corner, causing the vehicle to roll onto its side. The children weren’t in the car at the time of the incident.

“He turned the car around the corner, and the car did not respond at all,” Hargrave said. “He was travelling at some speed, that’s what you do on a closed track.”

The two men were wearing helmets and strapped in with harnesses, and they managed to exit the vehicle uninjured.

Moments later the engine started to emit smoke, possibly from a fluid leaking onto the turbocharger, Hargrave said.

READ MORE: 2019 racing season gets underway at Saratoga Speedway

READ MORE: Man flown to hospital in critical condition after single-car rollover in Black Creek

The speedway’s on-site fire crew was able to suppress the fire initially by emptying six large-sized extinguishers.

The fire department was dispatched after the fire reignited, Hargrave said. He praised the firefighters, saying they did a “brilliant job.” He acknowledged the proximity of the fire to the forest.

“We have a racetrack in a rain forest, so we have trees around us,” he said.

He pointed out that three rollovers also occurred on Saturday night during races, all without injury, and stressed that a racetrack is the appropriate place for speeding vehicles.

“If you’re going to go and drive fast, you’d better be at a facility that is made for it, set up for it, and that’s why we have it.”

Green said police didn’t attend the incident, and a media relations officer at the Comox Valley RCMP didn’t reply to a request for information by deadline.

This story was updated on June 19 with information relating to the RCMP.

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