Abbotsford firefighters did a “remarkable” job of containing and dousing a massive blaze that ripped through a lumber yard but was stopped short of spreading to a neighbouring gas station and RV dealer, fire chief Don Beer said.
The fire broke out around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday evening at Precision Custom Reman on Matsqui Place, near the Mt. Lehman exit off Highway 1.
When firefighters got on scene, they saw two buildings and stacks of lumber on fire, with flames reaching 30 metres high, a city news release says.
“Flames were quite a ways in the air,” Beer said.
The highway was shut down in both directions, as the spread to its median and smoke limited visibility. Crews doused the median grass fire as well.
Beer said it was a “grueling” battle, with crews contending not only with a stubborn blaze ripping through dried wood but also dealing with 30 C temperatures.
Every engine company in Abbotsford except one was dispatched to the fire. In all, 19 Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service units and roughly 85 firefighters attended to the fire, along with Abbotsford Police, BC Hydro, Fortis, B.C. Ambulance and City of Abbotsford engineers.
Engines from Mission and Chilliwack came to Abbotsford to cover the rest of the city during the blaze. Heavy equipment was also brough into to help extinguish the remainder of the fire overnight.
The yard’s main building and sawmill were severely damaged, along with much of the lumber.
The hours-long battle successfully prevented the fire from spreading to nearby businesses – including a Petro-Pass station and Fraserway RV – and even some buildings on the Precision property, “which is remarkable, considering the amount of the combustible materials that are there.”
Approximately 20 employees are out of work for the time being, as a result of the blaze.
Fire investigators are expected to be on scene for several days to determine the cause of the fire, which remains unknown.
No one was injured in the incident.