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'Nasty' New Westminster fire continues to burn at plastic recycling facility

Last Updated Oct 13, 2020 at 7:21 am PDT


A fire at a plastic recycling facility in New Westminster continues to burn

The fire sent thick smoke billowing into the air Monday night and into Tuesday

Crews say the fire has been difficult to put out, mainly because of the materials that are burning

NEW WESTMINSTER (NEWS 1130) – Crews continue to battle what’s been described as a “nasty” fire in New Westminster’s Queensborough area.

The fire broke out at a commercial plastic recycling depot around 7 p.m. Monday near the Annacis Island Swing Bridge.

“It’s very difficult to put out,” New Westminster Fire and Rescue’s Assistant Deputy Chief Curtis Bremner said Tuesday.

“The material that’s burning is bales of plastic, recycled plastic. So, when you heat plastic up, it reverts back to the hydrocarbon base that it’s from, so it’s very flammable, very hot. Releases a lot of energy quickly.”

Bremner explained the fire has been a challenge for crews, with close to 50 or 60 people called in to fight the blaze at its peak.

The response has since been scaled back slightly, but Bremner said there were still more than 30 firefighters on scene as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Crews from Richmond and Delta were called in to assist Monday night, but have since been relieved.

It’s unclear what caused the fire, which started outside one of the buildings in the area.

“It’s way too early in the incident to determine the cause of the fire. So, once we get the scene secured and safe and the fire’s out, we’ll get our fire investigators out and we’ll see if we can determine the cause and origin of the fire,” Bremner said.

Locals took to social media throughout the night to share stunning images of the fire, which sent thick smoke billowing into the air.

Bremner said in addition to crews’ hard work, the wet weather has played a major role in suppressing the fire.

“It helped suppress the smoke from the fire, as well, so for the residents of New West, it’s probably to their benefit that we had lots of rain,” he said, adding crews were dealing with not only wet conditions, but also cooler temperatures.

No injuries have been reported and there is no risk of the fire spreading to any homes. Bremner said an adjacent property did sustain some damage.

The fire has forced some road closures in the area. Listen live for traffic updates every 10 minutes on the ones. You can also follow us on Twitter @NEWS1130Traffic or subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

Monday night’s fire comes about a month after a major blaze destroyed much of New Westminster’s iconic pier. One person was arrested and later released in that case. There does not seem to be any relation between the two.