Warning lifted after fire erupts at Squamish shipping terminal
Published Thursday, April 16, 2015 8:01PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, April 17, 2015 7:54PM PDT
Nearly 24 hours after a massive blaze at Squamish Terminals singed a nearby boat and prompted a region-wide warning for people to stay inside their homes, crews are still working to put out hot spots.
The fire broke out at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday in a berth in the terminal’s east dock, nearly spreading to a timber carrier on the water, the Star Atlantic, and multiple flammable pallets.
More than 60 Squamish firefighters responded, aided by the Coast Guard. They were later joined by two fire boats from the Vancouver Fire Department which pumped water onto the fire.
“Lots of the foremen were down there with hoses trying to keep it under control while waiting for the fire trucks,” said Laurence Byers, a longshoreman who works at the terminal.
Because of the thick, toxic smoke residents were told to keep their windows and doors closed and turn off ventilation systems. If venturing outdoors, it was advised that people should cover their noses and mouths with a wet towel.
By Friday afternoon, rubble was still visibly smoldering. Squamish Fire Chief Bob Fulton told reporters it’s “still an active fire,” although it’s contained to the underside of the dock. Excavators are helping to flood the area with water and he expected it would be 100 per cent put out sometime Saturday.
“It’s a tough fight because of the construction of the underside of the dock. It’s hard to get right at it,” he said, adding that tide swings were adding to the woes.
Crews are focusing underneath the pilings to ensure there will be no flare ups. A barge with heavy equipment, including a crane, was expected to arrive late in the evening to help pull apart the dock.
Both the fire chief and Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman thanked Vancouver for sending its fire boat to assist efforts.
With the two hour travel time, Heintzman admitted it would have been better if Squamish had its own fire boat, but said it’s unlikely that would happen in the future.
“It’s very expensive,” she said.
Local schools were open Friday, but children were told to remain inside.
Vancouver Coastal Health Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Martiquet, said one person with a respiratory issue was treated in hospital and released, and said it’s unlikely an air quality advisory will be reinstated.
“We will continue to be doing air monitoring and we will be sampling as well the soot that is landing on people’s yards to find out how toxic it is, especially on vegetable gardens and the like,” Dr. Martiquet said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Sheen in the water near Squamish Terminal. Streamkeeper we talked to is worried about creosote from the fire. pic.twitter.com/KkgU774DDp— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) April 17, 2015