Fire next door to B.C. pipeline fuel tank facility under control

BURNABY, B.C. — A fire just a few hundred metres from the Kinder Morgan fuel tank facility in Metro Vancouver raged for a few hours before it was contained by about three dozen firefighters.

Burnaby Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Samson said they were called about 8 p.m. Saturday to the blaze burning in a large equipment storage facility used by a demolition business.

“Our crews found a large storage facility with heavy fire from all sides and they declared the mode defensive, meaning no interior operations were going to take place.”

Samson said the fire was about 230 metres from the closest fuel tank, although the fire didn’t spread to nearby greenspace or other homes.

The building is in a property bordering a narrow greenbelt at the edge of the Kinder Morgan facility where 13 huge tanks hold crude oil and refined products awaiting distribution. Kinder Morgan said on its website that the 13 tanks can hold up to 1.6 million barrels of fuel.

The fire’s location was at the very top of the water main, and Samson said they had some water supply issues in fighting the blaze.

He said they notified Kinder Morgan’s security as a precaution, but there were “no concerns of any fire spread outside the building envelope.”

Samson said they don’t know what was lost in the fire, but there were machines in the building and by the way the fire burned, there was some type of fuel load inside.

The building partially collapsed, and because the owner of the building has a demolition company, they brought in their excavator to help with the fire control, he said.

No one was hurt and the cause of the fire isn’t known.

A woman living directly across the street from the fire described the blaze as ”pretty spectacular,” saying sparks from the fire were shooting above the tall trees on the property.

The woman, who didn’t want to be named, said the fire was “alarmingly near” the fuel tank facility.

No one from Kinder Morgan could immediately be reached for comment.

Kinder Morgan is planning to expand the site, doubling the number of storage tanks, in preparation for the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline which ends at the facility on the Burrard Inlet.

A 2015 report by Burnaby Deputy Fire Chief Chris Bowcock examining the planned expansion says the terminal in not the appropriate location for the development because it “poses significant constraints in a emergency/fire response perspective.”

The report singles out wildfire as a key concern because of the forested area around the tank farm, saying if the tanks caught fire, there could be significant property and forest lost before a fire could be controlled.

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