Nobody was injured when a small fire caused an explosion that ripped a hole in a wall at the Flavelle Sawmill in Port Moody early Tuesday morning.
PoMo Fire Chief Remo Faedo told The Tri-City News investigators are unsure what caused the blaze but said the flames heated up a nitrogen tank attached to the mill’s hydraulic system. Once the temperature reached a certain point, the tank exploded, setting off the sprinklers and damaging the metal cladding wall of one of the buildings.
“We think the fuel was the hydraulic fuel,” Faedo said. “What the ignition source is, we aren’t exactly sure at this time.”
The call came in at about 2:25 a.m. and crews wasted no time in getting to the property, he said. But by the time firefighters had arrived, the building’s sprinklers had done a good job of containing the flames. Several spot fires had to be extinguished and power was shut off at the facility.
“It wasn’t a big fire,” Faedo said. “All of the workers on site were on their break, so none of them were in the vicinity of the explosion.”
With so much combustible material on site, he added that sawmill fires are often difficult to contain.
Last April, crews spent 12 hours dousing a smokey blaze at Flavelle, which was contained to the basement of the planer mill. In that case, sawdust fuelled the flames and crews were concerned about embers lighting fires in other parts of the property. It took 30 crew members and eight volunteers to extinguish the flames.