03/18/2014 07:25 EDT | Updated 05/18/2014 05:59 EDT

Gas theft increase sparks safety concerns in Delta

Delta police are changing the way they respond to vehicle fires, after a motorhome burst into flames in yet another suspected case of gas theft gone wrong, leaving a pair of suspects badly burned. 
Police say the alleged thieves parked an RV over the in-ground tanks of a gas station and siphoned gas into a barrel inside the vehicle.

A spark from an unknown ignition source turned what police are calling a "sophisticated heist" into a ball of flame. 

"There's not much left of the motor-home," said Delta Police Sgt. Sarah Swallow. "It was basically a fireball and some of the witnesses described it as quite an explosion."

That investigation continues, but Swallow says black market gas is becoming increasingly common, being sold out of warehouses and even online classifieds for as little as 50 cents a litre.

The rise in such incidents in Delta and the fire hazard of stolen gas have police cautious about being the first responders to these types of calls, saying it becomes a balancing act between saving lives and keeping officers safe. 

"We will be waiting a lot more for fire[fighters] to come and deal with something rather than necessarily being the first responder that runs up to something with a fire extinguisher," said Swallow.