Crews were called to extinguish a fire at a commercial building in Burnaby on Saturday night that broke out alarmingly close to the Kinder Morgan tank farm facility.
Firefighters were called to the blaze at 7742 Aubrey St. near Pinehurst Drive just before 8 p.m.
Burnaby Fire Deputy Chief Dave Samson said crews quickly upgraded the fire to a second alarm.
The fire destroyed a large storage garage situated about 400 feet away from Kinder Morgan’s Burnaby Mountain tank farm. It also destroyed a motor home, but a nearby house escaped unscathed.
Samson said the main concern for firefighters was keeping the fire contained and from spreading to surrounding forest.
At the height of the blaze, there were 34 firefighters on scene and eleven trucks on hand to fight the fire.
Firefighters were challenged by difficult access to the site itself as well as water supply issues, due to low water pressure because of the the blaze’s location at the top of the mountain. Crews got around that challenge by creating a water supply structure to relay pump.
Assistant Fire Chief Barry Mawhinney tells Global News the contents of the structure were not known for certain – possibly some chemicals – and a propane bottle is believed to have exploded as well. Firefighters limited their attack on the fire to the building’s exterior, due to the extreme heat and the danger of building collapse.
The bright orange flames, sparks and plumes of smoke could be seen for quite a distance, causing some justifiable alarm to nearby residents because of the proximity to the Kinder Morgan facility.
On Sunday, Assistant Fire Chief Stew Colbourne told Global News crews felt confident there was no serious risk to the tank farm.
“Any time there’s a fire we’re concerned with exposures,” Colbourne said.
“The exposure of the tank farm we felt was low risk, it was far enough away, there was a large forested area between the building as well as the tank farm as well as the amount of moisture in the trees right now that the chances of spread was quite minimal.”
Colbourne acknowledged that the risk would have been higher in the summer with drier conditions, but he said even then he believes there would have been enough equipment and firefighters to contain it.
Colbourne said it’s unclear how the fire started, and that they will likely not be able to discover its cause.
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