More than 70 firefighters are battling a blaze at Schnitzer Steel Canada’s facility near Nanaimo Airport, according to the Cowichan Valley Regional District. (Chris Bush/Black Press)

UPDATE: Crews have contained spread of fire near Nanaimo Airport

Approximately 50 firefighters battling blaze at Schnitzer Steel Canada site in Cassidy

UPDATE: The spread of the fire near Nanaimo Airport has been contained, says the regional district there.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District advised in a press release Thursday evening that the fire in the North Oyster district has been contained, with groundwater contamination remaining a threat at surrounding properties.

The CVRD says there are about 50 firefighters from eight departments still at the scene at Schnitzer Steel Canada near the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Cedar Road.

“Fire crews are presently gaining control of the fire that is being fuelled by contaminated material, including a tire pile that continues to burn down,” the release notes. “The threat of the fire exposure to adjacent properties and structures is lessening as wind speed and direction have improved favourably since the fire began.”

Emergency Management B.C. noted in a report that fire suppression water run-off may impact Thomas Creek and that officers from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy were on scene and an environmental health officer from Island Health also attended. The First Nations Health Authority was also notified.

“The recycling facility owner, Schnitzer Steel Industries, has contracted qualified professionals to help address the environmental response, any potential contamination from fire suppression water and to monitor the air quality,” the report noted.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED: While fire crews from a number of jurisdictions battle a fire at a scrapyard near Nanaimo Airport, officials are anticipating water quality concerns and evacuations, and are warning people to stay away from the area if possible to avoid breathing in the toxic smoke.

Crews responded to a fire at the Schnitzer Steel Canada site the morning of Sept. 10, in Cassidy, off the Trans-Canada Highway, with officials stating the fire is being fueled by car parts, plastics and tires. According to a Cowichan Valley Regional District press release, the fire is anticipated to spread to a neighbouring private property, with imminent evacuations of the immediate area.

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“Groundwater contamination as a result of the fire is a significant concern and highly likely based on current assessments from crews on the ground,” said the press release. “Representatives from the B.C. Ministry of Environment are on scene, as are those from Vancouver Island Health Authority. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations groundwater monitoring department has been alerted, and it is anticipated that VIHA will issue a boil water order for properties in the area.

“Air quality is also a concern given the contaminated material ablaze, and the public is advised to avoid the area if at all possible.”

In a separate press release, the Township of Ladysmith advised its residents to conserve water, as firefighters are drawing water from Ladysmith’s reservoir to battle the blaze.

“Please be aware that Ladysmith’s reservoir levels are currently fine, however your assistance in conserving water during this important time is greatly appreciated,” the press release said.

The CVRD has activated its emergency operations centre at Level 1, said the press release, and further updates will be posted at www.cvrd.bc.ca and the Cowichan Valley Regional District Facebook page.

RELATED: Fire crews on scene at scrapyard near Nanaimo Airport



editor@ladysmithchronicle.com

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