Fire shuts down Columbia Avenue

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
August 25th, 2011

Traffic was brought to a halt on Columbia Avenue Tuesday, after a generator caught fire right under a cluster of trees and overhead power lines.

“We got the call just after 3 p.m.,” said Fire Chief Gerry Rempel. “Several people called it in to us, to 911, and to the police. They said it looked like there was a smoke stack coming from the parking lot of a medical clinic – the original caller thought a transformer was on fire.

“With all the trees and power lines, it had the potential to be very dangerous, especially since it was in such a high-traffic area,” he said. “We really appreciated how quickly concerned citizens called it in.

He said Columbia Avenue was shut down for about 20 minutes, until the fire had been extinguished with chemical fire suppressants.

Ten firefighters and two pumper trucks responded, finding the blaze in a locked electrical box containing a diesel unit and back-up generator for the city’s sewer lift station. The fire totally destroyed the diesel unit and generator, according to Rempel, causing an estimated $70,000 damage.

“The fire department and the BC Safety Authority electrical inspector are investigating, but we’ve not yet determined the cause of the fire.”

But both Rempel and Castlegar RCMP Cpl. Deb Postnikoff said the fire doesn’t not appear to be suspicious in nature.

Rempel also said the loss of the generator will in no way negatively impact city services for residents.

“It’s a back-up generator that’s supposed to fire up – no pun intended – if we have a power outage, at  which time I would power the sewer lift station,” he said. “The only negative impact is to civic works crews, and that, only if the power goes out before the generator is replaced.”

Categories: General


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