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Valley News: Welding Repairs May Have Caused Ritchie Feeds Fire
Submitted. At 12:14 pm today the Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service (AFRS) responded to a report of an explosion and fire at 33777 Enterprise Avenue involving a silo at an the Ritchie Smith Feeds mill.
Upon arrival, fire crews saw smoke coming from a grain silo located at an upper level of the feed mill. Fire crews quickly learned that an explosion occurred inside the silo after hotworks from welding was performed earlier in the morning to repair a worker access platform.
Fire crews established a plan to access the roof top level using two aerial ladder trucks and worked hard to access the fire contained to the inside of the equipment.
As the fire continued to burn, a hole had to be carefully made in the bottom of the silo to release the firefighting water to avoid further damage or collapse from the additional weight of the water. The outside temperatures and the location of the fire deeply inside the equipment made this a very difficult fire to extinguish.
The damage to the feed mill equipment is estimated at approximately $5000.
AFRS preliminary investigation into the cause of fire determined that welding repairs done earlier on the side of the silo may have heated some latent materials on the inside wall sending embers downward to ignite combustible dusts.
This would have caused an explosion, with flames shooting out of the top of the silo. A service contractor doing hotworks repairs happened to be nearby on the roof level when the explosion occurred, but was able to get down to safety without injury.
One Abbotsford Firefighter suffered minor injury during ground operations when he lost his footing, but was treated and released by BC Ambulance crews on scene. No serious injuries were reported.
Approximately 12 career fire fighters on 3 apparatus along with 24 auxiliary paid-on-call firefighters on 6 apparatus responded to the incident. Mutual Aid was requested of neighboring Mission Fire Rescue which sent 1 apparatus and crew to assist with City standby coverage.