Environmental disaster averted
Sep 26, 2013 / 3:32 pm
Local knowledge and a quick response from Kelowna's Hazmat team helped avert a potential environmental disaster.
Thursday morning's fire at White Stag Auto Body on Brant Avenue posed serious environmental dangers considering the types of chemicals used within the business.
Kelowna Fire Department Platoon Captain, Dale Calhoun, says the potential for water contamination was on par with what the city faced three years ago when contaminated water got into Mill Creek after a large industrial fire on Kirschner Road.
"It could have been huge," says Calhoun.
"Because of the knowledge our guys had - even before the Hazmat team got there we had our safety officer on scene and we helped to divert water away from one of the sewer drains."
Calhoun says crews gathered dirt from the side of the road to divert the potentially contaminated water away from the sewer.
"For diking we actually lift the lid and put ply underneath and fill it up with sand so we can seal the drain."
He says the Hazmat team was also training at the time at the main hall on Enterprise Way allowing them to get to the scene much quicker than they normally would.
Calhoun says that allowed fire crews to concentrate on the fire and left containment of contaminated water to Hazmat.
Two city suction trucks also assisted in controlling runoff.
"The Hazmat team tested several water samples and detected no water contamination."
Calhoun says fire crews were also able to keep the flames away from about 40-45 gallon barrels of (paint) thinners and other hazerdous materials.
Fire investigators remain on scene trying to determine the exact cause of the blaze.
The business owner, Frank Vaski, says he believes the fire started as a result of some maintenance work that was being done in the painting room of the building.
One person was taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.
Eight residential units to the east of the fire were also evacuated due to the heavy smoke.
Calhoun says the building will be a complete loss.
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