Fire breaks out at deep-water shipping terminal in B.C.; smoke billows over town

SQUAMISH, B.C. — A fire that began Thursday at the Squamish Terminals deep-water port in B.C., was 90 per cent contained by early Friday, but a shelter-in-place warning remained in effect.

The fire emitted what Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman said was dark, strong, pungent and toxic smelling smoke that prompted a warning to residents to stay indoors.

No air quality advisory has been issued for the area, but the District of Squamish said it had called in resources from the province to assist with air quality testing.

The shelter-in-place warning remains in effect throughout the community as a precaution.

The warning asks residents to keep doors and windows closed, turn off ventilation systems if possible and to cover their noses and mouths with a wet towel if they must venture outdoors.

Kim Stegeman of Squamish Terminals said the blaze broke out just after 6 p.m. at the facility at the north end of Howe Sound and about an hour’s drive from Vancouver.

“There was a ship at the dock but it did not catch fire,” she said. “It is safe and away from danger.

“Everyone who was working on site was accounted for and evacuated.”

Stegeman said she doesn’t know how the blaze started.

A spokeswoman for B.C. Emergency Health Services said four ambulance crews, a helicopter and a critical-care team were on standby but nobody was transported.

“Sheltering-in-place has been shown to be the most effective response during the first few hours of a substance release where the public would be at higher risk outdoors,” the district said.

The district said efforts will move to extinguishing the fire underneath the dock once the morning’s high tide recedes.

The Canadian Press

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