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Bystanders save classic '67 Chevy pickup from sudden engine fire

Doug Olson's classic, spared from the flames, is featured in Sunday's Cruisin' Classics Show and Shine

Doug Olson got the surprise of his life a couple of months ago when he stopped at the Eastway ESSO gas station in his immaculately restored 1967 Chevy shortbox stepside pickup.

He had no sooner rolled into the lot when flames started shooting out from under the hood.

As fate would have it that April 28 day, Austin Campbell was there at the same time, fuelling up his vehicle, and saw what was happening. He quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher hanging next to the gas pump and used to extinguish the flames.

“I slammed on my brakes, turned the truck off and lifted up the hood and as I did that two young guys with a fire extinguisher were right there,” said Olson.

Olson, who spent hundreds of hours with his garage buddies bringing that truck back from gutted teardown stage to showroom quality, said if not for their quick thinking, he would not have the truck anymore.

“The fire was going for about a minute but it felt like an eternity,” said Olson.

The damage was limited to a couple of vacuum lines and a few hoses, electrical wires, distributor but it could have been a complete writeoff.

Olson wanted to reward Campbell and his buddy for being there to help but they said all they wanted was for him to fix the truck, which he did.

“I would have given him a kidney,” laughed Olson. “They really saved me.”

Olson figures he cracked a fuel line struggling to put on a fuel filter, which was putting up some resistance. He’d changed the fuel lines a year ago. He’d been driving the shiny green truck for a month when the fire happened.

Father's Day

Olson is vice-president of the Cruisin’ Classics car club and with this being Father’s Day weekend coming up, there’s no shortage of activities to attract the city’s car buffs.

Last year’s Show and Shine at Lheidli’ T’enneh Memorial Park was a rainy day., which knocked the car count down to a couple hundred. But Sunday’s forecast is calling for suny skies and a high of 17 C and that should bring out the usual turnout of between 300 and 400 vehicles and thousands of spectators for the show, which runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

There is no admission charge. Vehicle owners pay a $15 fee to be part of the display and be eligible for trophies.

Olson likes to build his own cars and trucks and has seven classics that he’s done most of the work on, including a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and a 1969 Camaro convertible, the same car he drove he was a teenager. He also has a 1969 Chev K-10 4X4 and is working on a ’56 Ford pickup that’s not yet driveable.

“I like my trucks,” he said.

On Sunday, Olson’s dad plans to show up in a ’71 Ford 4X4 and his son also wants to make it to be at the park to display a ’73 Pontiac LeMans. That all hinges on him fixing the signal lights in time.

Olson, 48, operates the Tano Fuel gas station on the Lheidli T’enneh reserve at Shelley and also owns Triple-D Trucking, a tilt-bed tow-truck operation that’s delivered more than a few project cars to people’s restoration garages.

The Cruisin’ Classics will be staging their annual Prince George senior’s home, which starts Friday at noon. They’ll start lining up on along Fourth Avenue at Ottawa Street Friday morning at about 11.

On Saturday, between 30 and 40 classic vehicles will gather at the UNBC parking lot at 9 a.m. for another parade through the city. They’ll head north on Foothills Boulevard and take a roundabout route to the Northern Lights Estate Winery on Pulpmill Road, also stopping at the Central BC Forestry and Railway Museum on the way back to downtown to the Prince George Senior Secondary School 50th reunion at the Coast Inn.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct cost for owners to display their vehicles.