The thick plume of black smoke could be seen for miles last Friday as a storage shed full of petroleum products burned down near Dapp.
Westlock County firefighters responded to the call of fire at Burchett Fuels, just south of the Dapp Corner Store, at about 10 a.m. on April 25. Nineteen firefighters from the Westlock Rural, Jarvie and Fawcett departments were on scene.
Regional fire chief John Biro said crews were able to contain the fire to a storage shed which was filled with pails and drums full of petroleum products like motor oil, transmission fluid and hydraulic grease.
The biggest priority was to limit the spread of the fire, both to other vehicles on site and to the natural area around it.
“We ended up using approximately 12,000 gallons of water,” he said. “Most of that was for exposure protection — just limiting damage to the environment.”
Several tenders, the fire trucks designed to hold large amounts of water, were at the scene, including the Westlock County Public Works tender, which holds 4,000 gallons of water on its own.
“We had an old fuel truck that was also impinged buy fire, as well as the storage tanks for the bulks fuel,” Biro said. “We just needed the extra support so we could have continuous water flow and wouldn’t have spread of the fire involving other structures.”
Great efforts were made to limit the amount of runoff from the fire, preventing contamination of the environment.
“We called in a bobcat to dyke up some of the runoff, then we called in a vacuum truck to support us with some of the runoff,” he said.
Biro said the weather conditions were a great help in keeping the blaze under control, as the wind was blowing the smoke and heat away from adjacent structures and the ground was very wet, limiting the possibility of a grass fire. “If this had been a few weeks earlier, when we didn’t have any snow cover and some dry grass, we would have had some running grass fires for sure,” he said. “It would have been awful.”
Nobody was injured as a result of the blaze, although an ambulance was on scene as a precaution — typical in the case of a prolonged firefighting effort like this one.
Biro said the cause of the fire is unknown.
“The investigation is still underway. I imagine the insurance company will be doing their investigation as well,” he said. “It will be a while yet, for sure.”