With the support of four area fire departments, 100 Mile House Fire-Rescue battled a stubborn, “dirty, dirty fire” at the South Cariboo Landfill in 100 Mile House on Aug. 15, says Fire-Rescue chief Roger Hollander.
During the exhausting six-hour battle, he says they had 25 firefighters and 10 trucks working at the site.
“Firefighters from Lone Butte, Forest Grove, 108 Mile Ranch and Lac la Hache responded with their tenders, and we all worked hard to keep this fire under control.
Fire-Rescue got the callout to respond to a dumpster fire at 2:25 p.m., but when the firefighters arrived, they realized it was much more than that.
Hollander says there was a large pile of demolition material – covering close to an acre in size and stacked very high and deep – was already burning aggressively. “It was basically at big row of material.”
When they arrived, he adds the blaze had already spread to a grassy hillside west of the burning demolition material and high winds were threatening to push flames to a nearby tree line of dead pine trees east of the main fire.
“Our crews worked quickly to contain and extinguish the grass fire on the hillside and then contained the main fire on the east side, so it wouldn’t spread into the tree line.
“Once we were able to do that, we were able to surround and confine the fire to the main material pile.”
Hollander notes there were some difficulties with the fire because there was a large amount of material and the flames and heat kept the flames burning deep within the pile.
“We eventually had to get an excavator in there to pull the material apart.”
Another difficulty was there is no water available at the landfill, so all of the water was pulled from the Fire Rescue hall and all of the tender trucks took back to the fire. Hollander says they chose the fire hall because it would be safer to co-ordinate all of the tender traffic.
“We also had strong winds going against us that day.”
Firefighters were there for six hours, he says, adding they turned the scene over to private contractors who remained there with heavy equipment. They also had to bring water up to the site.
Hollander says the contractors have been at the scene since Saturday and have made some good progress by making fire guards and breaking down the materials.
As of 7:30 a.m. on Monday, he says there was only about one-third of the pile smouldering.
He adds no one was injured, but everybody worked hard to gain control of the blaze and there were a lot of very tired firefighters by the time they got back to their halls.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.