Kentville dump fire more combustible due to plastics, chief says
Environment Department found banned items at the South Mountain Construction and Debris site this month
The amount of plastics found in a dump near Kentville, N.S., is hampering efforts to put out the blaze that's been burning for four days.
The chief of the local volunteer fire department says the eight-storey-high pile contains a mix of types of waste.
"This is strictly a demolition and construction debris [dump] and unfortunately there's a lot more in this pile than that," Fire Chief Ryan MacEachern said.
"The more plastics and those types of things that are in that fire, it's going to make it that much more combustible."
The waste processing and treatment site belongs to South Mountain Construction and Debris Ltd., and is near Magee Lake, about 10 kilometres southwest of Kentville.
Banned items found
The provincial Environment Department recently found banned items in the dump during an inspection. On March 10, the dump's owners were ordered to remove the banned materials—including compost, plastics and other recyclables—by the end of May, a department spokesperson said Friday.
Investigators from Nova Scotia's Environment Department and the Department of Labour are expected to stay at the scene until the fire is out. The province shut down the facility so it could receive no new materials after the fire started.
The fire is expected to continue burning until at least Saturday evening, firefighters say.
"The water is taking effect. It's slowing it down," said deputy fire chief Jeff Martin. "It's a large pile, slow process."
Fire crews are using excavators to dig up the garbage pile and two 30-metre aerial units are spraying water from above, Martin said.
Air quality warning
The area downwind from the fire is under an air quality warning issued by Environment Canada. It warns smoke could affect surrounding communities based on the wind direction over the next few days and advises anyone with breathing difficulties to stay inside.
The province said the nearby Magee Lake watershed is not currently affected by the fire. Magee Lake is a back-up water supply for the town of Kentville.
The Kentville volunteer firefighters were on site for 21 hours Thursday. Some only arrived home around midnight to be called out right away to a house fire. The home on Highway 341 outside Kentville was destroyed, Martin said. The three occupants are unharmed, but their two cats died.
The fire department will be on scene at the dump fire until dusk Friday evening and back at it again Saturday for another full day.
"Aside from the wind, it's a pretty good day because we're expecting rain, 10 to 15 millimetres of rain here, later on in the day, which will be good to keep things dampened down," Martin said.
"The dry cold, like we've had the last couple days, didn't help at all because it just fuels the fire."
He said volunteer firefighters from throughout the Annapolis Valley are helping. Community members have also been dropping off donations of food for the volunteers, which are greatly appreciated by the fire department.