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12th September 2020
Concern for groundwater contamination after huge scrap metal, tire fire

by Nanaimo News NOW Staff. Sep 11, 2020 12:17 PM

NANAIMO — Firefighting and cleanup efforts continue at a major fire south of Nanaimo airport.

The blaze, fueled by scrap material, recyclables and tires began Thursday morning, sending a huge plume of black smoke into the sky.

Over 70 firefighters were on scene through the day from 15 different departments in the region, along with crews from Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

“I believe it was one of the larger, more coordinated fire response efforts in the region other than wildfires in the last few years,” Kris Schumacher, Cowichan Valley Regional District manager of communications told NanaimoNewsNOW.

Schumacher said the fire will likely burn for several more days before being completely extinguished, however crews are confident they have it contained and under control.

Approximately two dozen firefighters remain on scene Friday, supported by environment and health officials monitoring water and air quality.

As the fire burned Thursday, focus quickly turned to lingering impacts of the blaze. The CVRD said there was a high risk of groundwater contamination for nearby residents.

“There’s been a number of samples taken from the surrounding area that have been sent off for testing by the respective ministries overseeing it,” Schumacher said.

Test results are due back late Friday or on Saturday.

“Any resident in the adjacent area on wells should err on the side of caution until we have some concrete results from those,” Schumacher added.

The School District shut off the well which feeds North Oyster elementary school and arranged to truck water in for students returning this week.

Residents in the town of Ladysmith are being asked to conserve water over the weekend. A release said firefighters are drawing from the town’s reservoir to extinguish the fire.

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