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Crews knock down small fire at North Vancouver waterfront terminal

The smoke made it look worse than it was, the district’s assistant fire chief said.
A fire burns at Pembina Canada's Vancouver Wharves Terminal on the North Vancouver waterfront, May 31, 2023. | Hollee Brown

District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services members extinguished a small fire burning at a waterfront export terminal, early Wednesday morning.

The first 911 calls came in around 7 a.m. when residents noticed a large plume of smoke coming from the silos at Pembina Canada’s Vancouver Wharves Terminal on McKeen Avenue, where a small blaze broke out in the conveyor systems attached to the facility’s pellet storage silos.

But acting deputy chief Monty Armstrong said the blaze wasn’t as big as it might have seemed.

“The black smoke made it look a lot worse than what it is,” he said.

It wasn’t difficult to reach the fire from the silo’s walkways and extinguish it, he added.

No one was hurt in the incident and the fire was small enough that no infrastructure was damaged badly enough to impact operations at the terminal, Armstrong said.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fires at industrial terminals handling grain and wood products have been a serious concern in the past, but Armstrong said a lot of progress has been made in how those risks are mitigated.

“WorkSafeBC has taken a very aggressive role in ensuring there’s lots of training for operators and making sure everything is safe,” he said. “There wasn’t really a concern for us about this location with this type of product.”

Pembina Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to the company’s website, the terminal handles more than four million tonnes of copper concentrates, zinc, lead, sulfur and agricultural products per year, as well as six million barrels of diesel and biodiesel.

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