The cause of a fire in a scrap metal fire at the Mission Flats landfill on the weekend will remain undetermined as fire investigators are dealing with too much destruction in too large an area to even find where the blaze began.
Kamloops Fire Rescue responded to the fire at about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27, with toxic black smoke rising from the site, visible from around the city.
Crews made slow progress on dousing the fire, with the final embers extinguished the next morning.
Fire investigator Ray Webster told KTW it’s not possible to nail down the fire’s origin because so much of the metal was moved in the process of fighting the blaze.
The fire started as city crews at the dump were using a bulldozer to compact the scrap metal pile to allow for more products to be added. Smoke appeared during that process and flames erupted, Webster said.
Another reason a cause cannot be found is that, while it’s clear a combustable substance in the pile led to the fire, investigators cannot determine what it was as they don’t know exactly what comprised the heap.
“We know there’s plastics, we know there’s metal, old paint, there’s all kinds of stuff,” Webster said.
He estimated the pile to be about 1,200 square feet in size.
Hypothetically speaking, a fire such as the one at the landfill could be caused by the movement of metal from the bulldozer, creating a spark that ignites a substance, such as gasoline leaking from an item within the pile, Webster told KTW.
He said the scrap metal pile at the Mission Flats landfill is unsupervised and warned people to ensure they are not throwing flammable items onto it. Residents should ensure items like propane tanks and old lawn mowers are purged of all fuel before being taken to the dump.
The Mission Flats landfill has since reopened.