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Barge fire left to burn itself out

The fire on a barge moored in the Fraser River in Silverdale will be left to burn out on its own. The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. on May 26. - District of Mission photo
The fire on a barge moored in the Fraser River in Silverdale will be left to burn out on its own. The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. on May 26.
— image credit: District of Mission photo

The fire-damaged barge on the Fraser River in Silverdale is in stable condition and the water around it has not been harmed by hydrocarbons, according to Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) response specialist Randy Farrell.

The fire, which broke out Monday afternoon, is still smouldering and will be left to burn out on its own.

The barge belonged to a scrap metal recycling business, and contained free-floating waste oils (such as hydraulic, diesel or old engine oil), according to officials.

The CCG, which are primarily concerned about potential pollution to the marine environment, have been monitoring the situation daily.

“We would like to see it continue burning until all the hydrocarbons are burnt out,” explained Farrell, noting the barge is not at risk of going down.

Sinking the barge would create an environmental problem, said Mission Fire/Rescue Service duty chief Blaine Odenbach, who met with CCG officials Wednesday.

The Mission fire department responded to put out the fire originally, but care has now been transferred to federal officials as the barge is in federal territory.

Firefighters battled the blaze for more than five hours on Monday, and stopped when it was unsafe to continue.

The barge could not handle the extra weight of water being used to put out the fire, and an excavator, which was on deck, also caught fire and fell through the upper floor, according to a press release from the District of Mission.

Other safety factors for firefighters were the unknown material on the barge and the confined spaces, said Odenbach.

The onus is on the owner of the barge to put out the fire and clean up the damage, said Farrell. “The owner is responsible for maintaining a 24-hour fire watch until the fire is out.”

Odenbach estimates the fire could smoulder for another few days.

The burning barge is located on the south end of McLean Street off the Lougheed Highway, several hundred metres west of the former Queen of Sidney BC ferry, which is moored off Cooper Avenue.

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