Couple receive nod from province for preventing winter ‘catastrophe’

Amanda Pruden (left) and Stephen Picard with their awards.

A pair of Troyer employees are being recognized for their fast-moving actions that officials say helped prevent an environmental “catastrophe” earlier this year near Sunset Prairie.

Stephen Picard and Amanda Pruden received awards of merit today from the province.

The couple were driving a combo truck hauling condensate from a Shell well site along the Sanataa Road the morning of Jan. 8, when they smelled smoke wafting into their cabin.

“We got out, and each went down our side of the truck to find the source,” Pruden said.

“It wasn’t obvious at first, so we opened the door to the sleeper.”

Smoke billowed out from there, but the two still couldn’t find the source.

Picard killed the truck’s battery, and soon after flames began licking up the walls of the sleeper, while Pruden moved as fast as she could to chuck everything flammable in the cabin to the side of the road.

“It all happened so quick. You’ve got to react or run,” said Picard.

Picard quickly extinguished the fire — later determined to be an electrical fire that started behind a light on the passenger side of the sleeper — while Picard kept those driving the road informed over the radio.

The couple, originally from Kamloops, have been working for Troyer for just over a year.

Branch manager Nathan Troyer said the two did everything right — from their pre-trip safety procedures to responding to the smoke.

“It’s an obvious example of people that have their head engaged in the day,” Troyer said.

“In a time of emergency, that training kicks in and the reactions are appropriate.”

Vern Colley of Menlo Logistics, which oversees safety compliance for Shell, said that if Picard and Pruden acted any slower, the result would have been much different.

“Had these two people not had their heads on their shoulders, the fire would have continued,” he said.

“Probably within five to seven minutes, the vehicle would have been completely engulfed, then, had the tank been leaking with the (condensate) and the diesel, there would have been an explosion,” blasting a crater in the ground.

“The environmental damage that would have happened, we’d probably still be out their doing reclamation,” he said.

Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm presented Picard and Pruden with the awards.

“You could go into a thousand what-could-have-beens,” he said.

“They saved what could have been a major catastrophe, and that’s why this is so important.”

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