Explosion, fire at pellet plant in B.C.’s North Okanagan

A large explosion at a pellet plant in Lavington, B.C., awoke neighbours from their sleep early Monday. Stephanie Hoffman\Submitted

Neighbours were jolted awake early Monday morning at the sound of an explosion and fire at an industrial plant in the North Okanagan.

Stephanie Hoffman snapped photos of the dramatic scene showing flames and heavy, dark smoke billowing into the air at Pinnacle’s pellet plant in Lavington, B.C.

Scott Bax, chief operating officer with Pinnacle Renewable Energy, said the blaze broke out in a dryer system at approximately 3 a.m.

Stephanie Hoffman\Submitted

“There were no injuries and the scene is safe. Based on an initial assessment, the damage does not appear to be major,” Bax said in an email to Global News.

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Members from the Coldstream and Lavington fire departments responded to the scene. Fire chief Marty Wright says the plant’s own suppression system activated and the fire was isolated to a fan stack.

WorkSafeBC and relevant authorities have been notified and a preliminary investigation is underway, the company said.

Bax added that plant production will be curtailed while it investigates.

While WorksafeBC has sent a representative to the site it won’t be conducting its own investigation.

Instead, the company is required to investigate the incident itself and report back to WorksafeBC.

A municipal fire inspector is also looking into the cause of the fire.

The $47-million wood pellet production plant, which opened in 2015, uses sawmill residuals from within the Thompson-Okanagan region to make green, renewable pellet fuel.

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