He looked left and flames leaped from behind a house.
Const. Anton Ermolaev had been on routine patrol, cruising West Saanich Road near Tseycum.
His mind quickly ran the gamut of possibilities, but the flames were too high for a barbecue or bonfire.
He quickly backed up and headed behind the home. The back was fully engulfed.
He called dispatch to get the fire crew out, then kicked in the front door. Ermolaev couldn’t take the chance someone was in peril.
“It was dark and smoky,” he recalled. “I had to go out a few times to get fresh air.”
He went room to room and didn’t find anyone. Then stood and watched in shock as it burned.
Ermolaev, who marks five years with the Sidney North Saanich RCMP come March, was surprised to learn he’d been put in for an award for valour because of his actions on May 7, 2008.
“I would think anybody in my position would have done the same thing,” he said. “I think any of the people in this detachment would.”
Ermolaev and Const. Rosalind Guineau, also of the Sidney North Saanich RCMP were among eight Greater Victoria police officers honoured for their bravery and exemplary service at the annual Police Honours Night Nov. 17 by Lt. Gov. Steven Point and Solicitor General Shirley Bond.
On April 5, 2009, Guineau similarily entered a building full of smoke. She knew a violent confrontation had taken place at the residence and knew that someone was still inside the home. Without waiting for backup and without thinking of her personal safety, she entered the building and helped put out fires and got one person out.
Peninsula resident Ron Gaudet, the recently retired chief of Oak Bay Police Department, was recognized with the Award for Outstanding Service to policing in British Columbia from 1980 to 2011.
“A word like hero gets tossed around rather lightly these days, but these officers are the very definition of that word,” said Murray Coell, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “Their leadership and courage under extremely stressful conditions speaks to the very essence of what it takes to be a great police officer.”
Others honoured include: Sgt. Donald Symes and Const. Larry Worock (Oak Bay) who negotiated the surrender of a suicidal man armed with a shotgun; Insp. Darrell McLean (Victoria), for achievement in developing the Integrated Mobile Crisis Response Team; Insp. John Brewer (Island District Aboriginal Policing Service) who mediated the successful resolution to the native land claim dispute at Bear Mountain; and Sgt. Tom Guineau (Island District Integrated Technological Crime Unit) who used technical skills during a murder investigation that resulted in two people being arrested and charged, and pleading guilty to first-degree murder.