Fire crews are on scene at a fire at Schnitzer Steel Canada’s facility south of Nanaimo.
Emergency vehicles are active in the area. The fire is in the yard of the business’ property near the Trans-Canada Highway and south Cedar Road intersection.
Fire departments from numerous jurisdictions, including Cranberry, North Oyster, North Cedar, Crofton, Duncan, Sahtlam and Ladysmith are on scene and a piece of heavy machinery is being used to pull wreckage away to allow crews easier access to the fire. B.C. Wildfire Service is also on scene.
Northbound traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway, between the intersection at Cedar and Timberlands roads, is being impacted, with one lane being closed to allow for emergency vehicle movement.
A helicopter is on scene, assisting in battling the blaze.
Florian Schulz, North Oyster fire chief and incident commander, said the fire was still burning out of control as of 12:40 p.m. and the biggest challenge was the “fuel load.”
“It’s a massive pile of recyclables; car parts, plastics … water is a challenge,” said Schulz. “We have about 15 trucks settling water right now, so we’re somewhat keeping up, but the fuel load is just massive.”
Schulz said a pair of fire trucks were also attending to a nearby tree line “attacking the spread of the fire.”
Arley Dalziel, manager of nearby ColdStar Solutions Inc., said he was worried about the fire and potential evacuation.
“We’re definitely very concerned,” said Dalziel. “We’ve got a freight operation right now that we’re having to make a lot of adjustments on to make sure that we’ve got places for our freight to go and obviously we’re very concerned about the two facilities, the proximity. It’s rather frightening as you can see. We’re waiting and hoping for the best. It seems like they really called out the troops.”
Fire crews were seen re-positioning to ColdStar’s facility at 12:30 p.m. and were spraying down the side of the building at about 1 p.m. as the fire was creeping increasingly closer.
Nanaimo Airport said the fire and smoke is not impacting airport operations.
Two B.C. Ministry of Environment Environmental Emergency Response vehicles were seen arriving at the site of the fire.
David Pridham, B.C. emergency response officer, said the ministry was the lead provincial agency on scene to address any issues with dangerous goods.
“We are working with the responsible party, Schnitzer Steel, to address on-site and potential off-site migration (firefighting run-off),” said Pridham. “They’ve reached out and retained a qualified emergency response contractor that’s responding to site here should any potential off-site migration take place.”
Fire is still going strong pic.twitter.com/pptDMTQWFC
— Cole Schisler (@SchislerCole) September 10, 2020
— Chris Bush (@ChrisBushphotog) September 10, 2020
– Files from Cole Schisler