Exploding propane tanks and fiercely burning shelters didn’t deter a Vancouver Island man from taking heroic action earlier this month, with lives potentially on the line.
Barry Hornby, a bylaw officer with the City of Nanaimo, was presented with an appreciation award of bravery for the role he played in getting people to safety when a fire broke out in a downtown homeless encampment destroying several tents and triggering explosions.
“(Hornby) rushed into the scene of the fiercely burning fire of tents and contents, with tanks exploding, and guided people in the immediate vicinity out of harm’s way,” Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said. “This situation could have been catastrophic had it not been for his actions and others’ [actions]. This is courage at its finest. I need also to convey that this is not in his job description as a bylaws enforcement officer.”
Hornby was presented with the award at a meeting of city council Monday by Krog and Jake Rudolph, the city’s chief administration officer. Krog noted that this was an unusual presentation.
“I’m not sure if this is something that’s happened in the city’s history, potentially,” the mayor said.
Krog recounted the event, noting it was a large, intense fire that completely destroyed a number tents with explosions that shook nearby buildings, and said there were fortunately no injuries among the occupants of the encampment or city staff, firefighters and other emergency personnel who attended.
The mayor thanked Hornby for his “extraordinary and selfless act of courage” and commended him for a “remarkable act of bravery without regard for your personal safety.”
Krog also took a moment to comment on accounts circulated in social media and “different versions of events” surrounding the fire and its aftermath.
“Whatever else may come out of the story of the fire on Dec. 3, there is no question about the behaviour, the courage, demonstrated by Barry Hornby and others who attended that scene and did their best to make that situation much less of a disaster than it could have been and ensured the safety of many people,” Krog said.
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