Vernon and North Okanagan
Blaze at Greater Vernon landfill
Aug 20, 2013 / 11:42 am
(Raw video by Joe and Lorraine Dauenhauer)
Update Aug. 20
The fire burning at the Greater Vernon landfill is now under control, but it is expected to continue for several more days.
It began Monday night in a pile of scrap construction material. The lumber and pallets are put through a wood chipper that grinds up the material on site and crews believe this is where the blaze initiated, but that is still under investigation.
“The preliminary findings are certainly pointing in that direction and then of course with the winds kicking up, it wasn’t long before there was ember transfer into the grasslands which ran up the hill very quickly,” explained Fire Chief Keith Green.
“There is a significant amount of fuel out there for sure, and there’s still visible flame and smoke in the air and we’ll probably continue to see that well into tonight and tomorrow.“
Late last night the fire ran up a nearby hillside, in part due to prevailing winds and ember transfers, but that was put out overnight with crews still focusing on hotspots this morning.
Green estimates the pile of material still burning is 250 feet long and 30 feet wide. He says crews are putting water on the pile, and those flames will have to be stifled before they can bring in an excavator to move the piles around.
“Thanks to the forest service and air support, they were able to contain it before it got up into our radio towers which are up at the top (of the hill). They were also able to save a couple out buildings (on an adjoining property).”
There are currently 20 firefighters on scene, down from an estimated 50 crew members at the peak of the blaze.
Update 10:00 p.m.: City of Vernon Communications Officer Courtenay Pitcher says conditions have improved for the time being at the Greater Vernon landfill fire.
"The fire is about the same as it was a couple of hours ago. There is still a large wood pile to burn down, and flames are still visible," said Pitcher.
Vernon Fire Rescue along with volunteer firefighters from Coldstream and Swan Lake-BX are still onsite, and they will be working the fire through the night into the morning.
Wildfire management air support stood down at 8:15 p.m. due to darkness. Fire Information Officer Michaela Swan says forestry crews have been released and are now returning to base.
Forestry attended at the request of city fire. Depending on the conditions of the fire overnight, Swan says forestry would be available to assist further if required.
"We haven't seen additional growth on the fire tonight. It's still at six hectares. But I understand there is a significant amount of fuel burning and that's going to be visible throughout the night," said Swan.
Clerke Road residents remain on evacuation alert.
The Greater Vernon facility on Birnie Road will be closed tomorrow to accommodate fire crews. The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) is asking residents to use the Armstrong landfill instead.
Update 7:30 p.m.: An evacuation alert has been issued for the Clerke road residents.
The fire is burning aggressively at six hectares in size and trees are reported to be candling.
There are currently 50 firefighters and 5 engines on the scene from Vernon Fire Rescue, and Coldstream as well as Swan Lake-BX Fire Departments, and a forestry crew.
Wildfire Management Branch air support is continuing with both air tankers and a helicopter.
Update: 7:10 p.m.: RDNO DRF Operations Manger Dale Danallanko anticipates the landfill will be closed to all traffic tomorrow. Residents are asked to use the Armstrong facility.
Vernon Fire Rescue was called out at 4:26 p.m. to respond to call of a fire at the Greater Vernon Recycling and Disposal Facility on Birnie Road south of Vernon.
Vernon fire responded with assistance from the Coldstream and Swan Lake-BX volunteer departments.
Wildfire management branch was called in for air and ground support.
Fire Information officer Michaela Swan confirmed one initial attack crew and one forest officer from the Vernon base, along with a bucketing helicopter.
EMS is on scene with rehab to help cycle the fire fighters through.
Deputy Fire Chief Jack Blair confirms the fire started as of the result of someone working with machinery. A grinder sparked flames that spread to surrounding materials.
Fire crews are considering ordering an evacuation alert for the Clerke Road area.
More to come.
(With files from Melissa Ligertwood)
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