Nova Scotia

Kentville-area dump fire officially extinguished

The fire at a dump site in Kings County has been officially extinguished, according to Kentville Fire Chief Ryan MacEachern.

5-million gallons of water, $8,000 in fuel costs needed over 5 days to extinguish fire

It took a five-day battle to control the blaze at the dump pile, which belongs to South Mountain Construction and Debris Ltd., and is near Magee Lake, about 10 kilometres southwest of Kentville. (CBC)

The fire at a dump in Kings County has been officially extinguished, according to Kentville's fire chief, who is urging better management of the site after the pile of construction debris grew "out of control" before the blaze.

The five-day battle to control the fire, Ryan MacEachern says, was a learning experience he intends to share with other fire chiefs. 

"I believe that incidents sometimes happen for a reason. It's to help educate us to move forward as well," he said. 

The fire, which began by spontaneous combustion, kept the 75-member volunteer force at the eight-storey dump for five long days. Fumes from the fire prompted Environment Canada to issue a special air quality alert for the immediate area. 

It took five million gallons of water to extinguish and $8,000 in fuel costs alone. 

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. 

The site's owner declined an interview with CBC News, but MacEachern says the company may end up helping to reimburse the fire department for firefighting costs. 

David Williamson took this photo from a Cessna aircraft on Thursday morning from about 458 metres above ground level. (David Williamson)

Pile got 'too big and out of control'

Nova Scotia Environment has determined that a mixture of combustible materials at the site contributed to the fire. 

"The pile just continued to grow and continued to grow, and unfortunately, a little mismanaged, and got too big and out of control," said MacEachern. 

"With all the different debris that was supposed to be or is going to be picked out of that pile, created the fire that took five days to put out." 

On March 10, environment inspectors issued a directive to the operator of the site to separate the debris by May 25 in order to bring the site into compliance. 

Kentville Fire Chief Ryan MacEachern says he hopes better management of the dump will prevent future incidents. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

"I certainly think that there's a process that could have separation done at a different level before it ever ends up in that pile," said MacEachern.

"That is exactly what the fire marshal's office is looking at right now. They're looking at how to make that process so those piles are manageable."

Reimbursement to be discussed

MacEachern said the department and the fire marshal are sitting down with the owner of the site to discuss reimbursing the Kentville fire department for some of the costs. 

"He has already made some steps with some of the local homeowners to try fix up some areas that were damaged by equipment having to move onto the property to access waterways."

According to the Department of Environment, the operator is responsible for having appropriate measures in place and to take the actions necessary to address any potential environmental impacts associated with their activities. 

MacEachern said he hopes the experience will mean tighter enforcement, so another fire can be avoided. 

Department officials say the emergency order to cease operations at the facility remains in effect.

About the Author

Stephanie vanKampen

Videojournalist

Stephanie vanKampen is a videojournalist with the CBC News in Prince Edward Island. Send story ideas to stephanie.vankampen @cbc.ca

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