Fire at Columbia Lake Technology Centre site

BID Group project reportedly goes up in blaze

A fire broke out at the Canal Flats Technology Centre (CLTC) last night. While an entire shop was lost, no one was hurt and the company promises it will rebuild.

Lorri Fehr, CLTC chief executive officer, says the steel fabrication shop was on night-shift when the fire broke out, some time at approximatly 1:54 a.m.

“The night shift was on, and someone saw smoke coming out of one end of the shop,” Ms. Fehr reports.

The crew immediately called officials and cleared the building of people. They managed to move some major equipment out of the way as well.

“We’re thankful everyone is safe, and our team knew how to take care of themselves,” she says.

Unfortunately, the fire quickly picked up speed.

“All of a sudden, the fire just spread throughout the entire building.”

Leslie Cartwright lives across the field from the CLTC. She and her husband woke up and saw a glow through the windows. When they looked across, Ms. Cartwright says it was a scary sight.

“The flames were so huge when we first saw it,” she says. “We could see huge sparks flying up in the air.”

She speculates the lightest breeze could’ve carried the fire off, but thankfully there was no wind to pick up the sparks and move them across the community.

Canal Flats Fire department responded.

“Huge shoutout to the Canal Flats fire department,” says Ms. Fehr. “They did an amazing job.”

Canal Flats Fire Chief David Ferguson says while the fire was contained to the shop, once it vented through the roof “it took off and there was nothing we could do.”

His main concern was that the fire not spread to adjacent buildings, which they managed to do. Canal Flats responded, with mutual aid assistance from Fairmont, with a total of 17 members and four firetrucks. BC Hydro was also called to shut off the power. As of Thursday at noon, there were still hot spots that would have to burn down before the fire is considered out. He says as far as he knows, this is the biggest fire Canal Flats has ever seen.

The steel fabrication shop is a BID Company shop within the CLTC. It had recently undergone an expansion into another side of the old Canfor building in which the shop was located. But it appears as of Thursday morning the shop is destroyed, Ms. Fehr says.

However, she assures the fabrication shop will get up and running again.

“We have steel that needs to be fabricated and out; we have commitments to make,” she says. “We will rejig and rework our podtech factory – there’s lots of space in there – and look at how we can do steel fabrication in there. There will be a rebuild.”

While BID Company owner Brian Fehr runs about another 15 steel fabrication shops, this is the first site that has burnt.

“We’ve never had one burn down; so this is an anomaly for us,” Ms. Fehr says.

Investigators will be on scene to analyze the site. RCMP Sgt. Darren Kakuno says at this time, it does not appear the fire is suspicious in nature.

“A ton of energy went into containing that fire, and there hasn’t been an opportunity to look at causes,” Ms. Fehr said Thursday morning, only hours after the fire had started and is contained but still not out.

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