NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) — The fire that destroyed the older part of a pier along the Fraser River waterfront in New Westminster late Sunday is likely to continue to burn for a few days, according to New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote.
The fire started at Pier Park near the SkyTrain bridge around 8 p.m. Sunday and burned westward, through the giant “W” statue, volleyball courts, and beachfront lounging area.
“The fire could go on for, potentially, a couple of days,” Cote said.
The pier decking has to be lifted so firefighters can put out the remaining burning materials.
“Until they are able to do that, the fire is going to continue to burn underneath the deck.”
Fire Update: Visited the site this morning. The fire is still going at Pier Park, but it is now fully contained to the old pier section. The fire could last a few days and will not be able to be put out until they remove the deck. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/krjPKLQggO
— Jonathan Cote (@jonathanxcote) September 14, 2020
Cote said he was happy to learn that the new part of Pier Park is likely to be saved, although the old part is a total loss.
“It’s really devastating and heart-breaking for the City of New Westminster. Pier Park has really become a really important gathering part,” he added.
Cote said anyone who can should avoid the downtown part of the city for the time being because of poor air quality.
Continued #AirQualityAdvisory for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) #MetroVancouver and @FVRD1 due to #wildfires from outside the region. Wildfire smoke from fires in Washington and Oregon continues to persist in the region. pic.twitter.com/UhVcY5feZg
— Metro Vancouver (@MetroVancouver) September 14, 2020
The older pier consisted of timber treated with creosote, sending “highly toxic” smoke into the air, according to the city’s fire department.
As a result of that and an ongoing air quality advisory from Metro Vancouver due to wildfire smoke, classes at Queensborough Middle, Queen Elizabeth Elementary, and Qayqayt Elementary schools in New Westminster were suspended Monday.
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) September 14, 2020
The courthouse in New Westminster was also closed Monday due to the fire and air quality issues, while traffic was also affected, around Front Street, in particular.
TransLink, at one point, suspended Expo Line service between Columbia and Scott Road stations due to the fire, citing smoke as an issue.