The fire at the Northeast Edmonton Waste Management Facility has been contained.
The call came in just before noon Tuesday, at 11:46. Up to 40 firefighters were on the scene.
Edmonton Fire Rescue is using a relay pumping system to ensure adequate pressure is in the water lines to ensure adequate pressure over such a large area.
Captain Greg Holubowich is with Edmonton Fire Rescue and is the President of the Firefighters Union. He explains what’s fueling the fire.
“From what I understand on this fire it’s on a wood pile, 200 feet by 200 feet and approximately 50 to 60 feet deep. It’s primarily wood.”
That’s an area a little larger than two Olympic swimming pools laid side by side.
The nature of the materiel that’s feeding the fire is elevating the risk to firefighters.
“So of course there’s paint involved, if there’s some kind of treated wood that may be in the pile there’s a higher risk of more carcinogens, and the off-gassing is much more dangerous than if it was clean wood.”
It looks like the firefighters will have their work cut out for them.
“This type of fire’s very difficult to fight. The water supply is always a concern, in a large area like that…heavy equipment is, in all likelihood, going to be needed to turn up the pile so we can get water on it so we can extinguish the fire as quickly as possible.”
Jill McKenzie with Edmonton Fire Rescue says all efforts are being taken to ensure the safety of firefighters, including regular rotation as the temperature hovered around 20 degrees well past sundown.
“We’re very cognizant of ensuring the crews always have the proper rest that they need, and that they’re switched up as frequently as needed of course depending upon the fire and the circumstances. I mean, if it’s a hot hot day, they’re going to switch crews more quickly.”
Joyce called into the newsroom, she lives off the Yellowhead in the area of 50th street.
“I’m on oxygen and I had my front door open and I could smell smoke, and I thought, ‘where the heck is that coming from, I never left anything on the stove or anything,’ and finally I went to the door and holy man, it’s loaded with smoke. I knew from that it wasn’t a fire pit with the amount of smoke there was.”
Alberta Health Services have issued a Precautionary Air Quality Advisory for the Edmonton Zone as a result.
People with respiratory issues like Joyce may notice a worsening of symptoms, and are recommended to stay indoors with windows and vents shut. If you have concerns you can call Healthlink Alberta at 811, but if you’re having serious breathing difficulty, call 911 immediately.