An excavator pulls the pile of debris apart to get to hot spots. (Kiran Ajay/Facebook)

Debris pile spontaneously combusts at Maple Bay construction site

A large pile of land-clearing debris caught fire at a construction site in Maple Bay Tuesday, worrying residents and prompting a quick response from the nearby fire department.

Maple Bay firefighters were called to the new subdivision near Viewtop Road in the dinner hour. Shortly thereafter a call was made for a tender from the Crofton Hall to help with water as the hydrants in the construction area have yet to be hooked up.

Catelyn Neilson and her neighbour saw the smoke but they couldn’t initially tell where it was coming from.

They called it in anyway, just to be safe.

“We just saw the smoke billowing, and then the neighbour said she thought that the fire was down at the bottom of the construction site,” Neilson said. “So we went to look so we could call in a location. And by that time the fire truck was coming into the site and the fire chief was up at the top of the hill calling instructions on his radio.”

Maple Bay fire chief Mike Dunn said it was indeed a pile of hog fuel that had been sitting at the site for roughly six weeks and was waiting to be repurposed for top dressing.

It was not irresponsibly stored and it spontaneously combusted.

“It sat in the hot sun,” Dunn said. “It’s kind of the nature of the beast.”

Neilson gave kudos to the fire department.

“[It was an] excellent response from all concerned, but worrisome that there was a fire in the first place,” she said. “Everyone needs to take more care. I know my neighbours have been really concerned about the piles of slaughtered trees and roots that are being left to dry up about the construction site on either side of Nevilane. And of course all that Scotch broom is an awful fire risk.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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