BRITISH COLUMBIA

Axe Attack On Hornby Island Raises Mental llness Issues

03/23/2014 08:46 EDT | Updated 03/23/2014 11:59 EDT

A B.C. firefighter who was attacked by a man with an axe on Hornby Island is using the incident to raise awareness about mental illness.

Doug Chinnery and another firefighter responded to a call about an out-of-control fire last week and were chased off the property by a man wielding an axe, CTV News reports.

“Before we got out of the driveway, I heard the axe clang on the ground behind us after he had thrown it,” Chinnery told the news outlet. They escaped with the help of a neighbour.

Comox Valley RCMP found Chinnery's car, which was left on the property when the firefighters ran, with propane cylinders and gas cans connected to a battery, reports the Times Colonist.

The man is believed to be mentally ill.

After talking to community members, several people said that over the last couple of weeks he was more on edge. He got weirder and weirder and people wondered when he was going to crack,” Chinnery told Metro News.

“I realized they didn't know what to do, how to get help or how to stop him to getting to the escalating point."

That prompted Chinnery to start a community discussion about mental illness, the newspaper reports, and to research contact information for organizations that people can go to when dealing with someone who is mentally ill.

According to the Times Colonist, the suspect is in custody.

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