Mark Field was operating a Bobcat inside the local recycling facility Tuesday, moving cardboard onto the conveyor, when his machine started to give off a burning odour.
Half a minute later, he realized it wasn’t his loader.
“I could see smoke and then saw that the end of the load closest to the door was on fire,” said the plant supervisor.
Field used his machine to shove the entire 30-foot-long mass of cardboard out the large metal sliding doors, then slammed them shut.
That action earned high praise from the fire department and the Abbotsford-Mission Recycling Centre on Valley Road.
“He saved the building,” said Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service Asst. Chief Jeff Adams.
If the burning material hadn’t been moved outside, the fire would have rapidly spread to the compactor and conveyor and caused major damage.
“That would have put people out of work for sure,” Adams said.
Fire sprinklers located on the outside of the building also helped limit the damage, he added.
The facility was only shut down for 24 hours.
Field was pleased he was able to prevent further damage
“It was reactionary,” he said.
He added that credit also goes to Wastech, the transfer station across the street, which sent its front-end loader over to help pull apart the piles of burning cardboard.
“It prevented what could have been hours and hours and hours of work for the fire department,” said Field.
While a cause hasn’t been determined, Field said he’s “99.9 per cent sure it was not caused by a cigarette. We have a huge non-smoking policy.”
The May 13 blaze, which was called in around 2:30 p.m., developed into three other fires, as the burning embers, carried by strong winds, blew into other piles of cardboard located outside. About 35 firefighters were on the scene at the height of the incident.