Chilliwack is known for its unique fragrance, but it was a different sort of stench that forced residents to head indoors and close their windows Sunday.
Fire broke out in a landfill on the Skway First Nations Reserve early in the morning, sending pungent smoke wafting into the air and challenging firefighters for several hours.
At its largest, the fire covered 75 square metres of three-metre-high trash. With roughly 17,000 cubic metres of "free burning" trash in an area without hydrants, firefighters used tanker trucks and hand lines to try to quell the blaze. An excavator was also being used to dig through the debris to allow firefighters to get at the burning material.
About seven hours after it first broke out, the fire was brought under control around noon, assistant fire chief Jeff Ullyot told the Times.
"The contractor brought in a big six-inch deluge line and they were able to bring another excavator in and pick it apart and basically 'surround and drown' it," he said.
The smoke-which prompted officials to urge those with breathing troubles to head indoors-dissipated by the middle of afternoon.
Ullyot said such fires are tricky to fight.
"It's very dense; it's very compacted. Terrain is always an issue; the footing's unsafe and it's very difficult to get to without some sort of machine," he said. Fire officials have not pinpointed what sparked the fire.
Firefighters have had a couple of busy days. Just a half hour after the dump fire was reported, firefighters were called to a structure fire in the 46000 block of Fourth Avenue. They arrived to find a detached garage in flames. The flames had spread to the adjacent home, which was vacant and boarded-up.
The garage was destroyed. The fire in the house spread to the attic. The home, already slated for demolition, sustained significant damage. Fire officials say the fire is suspicious.
"There was no electricity and no gas to either of the structures so we really don't have an ignition source," Ullyot said.
And Monday morning, a ground fire was reported over a 3,000-square-foot area of duff (decaying forest material) and old wood on Little Mountain. The fire department asked for help from B.C. Forest Service personnel in Hope "to dig out the fire before it spreads."
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