UPDATED: Firefighters still on scene at McGee Lake debris fire

Pile of debris '150 feet long and 200 feet high': Chief MacEachern

John Decoste jdecoste@kingscountynews.ca
Published on March 23, 2016

MCGEE LAKE -  As of 6:30 p.m. March 23, Kings County firefighters continued to fight a fire in a large pile of debris at the Kings County Construction and Demolition waste disposal site on North River Road.

In a public service announcement issued at 2:40 p.m.  the Municipality of Kings asked people living in the 3000 to 4000 block of North River Road to keep windows and doors closed for the rest of Wednesday.

As well, "vehicles on Highway 12 between the 3000 and 4000 block are advised to keep windows closed," the release said.

Kentville firefighters responded to the original alarm at 4:23 p.m. March 22. Mutual aid was requested and supplied from New Minas, Waterville and District, Greenwich and Port Williams, and Canning firefighters stood in at the Kentville station.

According to Kentville fire Chief Ryan MacEachern, the pile of construction and demolition debris was an estimated “200 feet or more long and 100 feet high.”

Firefighters battled the blaze for most of the evening before closing down their operation at around 10:30 p.m.

“Our final crews were done by about midnight,” MacEachern said.

The fire was still burning when they left the scene. Kentville, New Minas and Waterville and District firefighters were re-paged back to the scene around 1 p.m. March 23.

“It’s burning underneath the pile, it’s so heavy and deep, and it’s trying to find some air,” MacEachern said. “We’re working with the Department of the Environment” as well as with the owner/operator of the site, Derrick Shaffer.

Firefighters had “pump-released over 4,000 feet of hose to get water to the scene,” MacEachern said at 1 p.m. March 23. “We’ve just been re-paged to the scene, and the Department of the Environment and our deputy chief are already out there.”

Speaking around 6:30 p.m. March 23, MacEachern said the pile of debris, now estimated to be 150 feet long and 200 feet high, was still burning.

"There's still a lot of fire," he said, talking on his cell phone. "I can see open flames from where I'm standing."

As an illustration of the size of the pile of debris on fire, MacEachern said, "we have our aerial ladder engine pouring water on the fire, and the top of the pile is higher than the top of the ladder."

As of 6:30 p.m., firefighters and equipment from Kentville, New Minas, Greenwich, Wolfville and Waterville and District remained at the scene, while Canning continued to stand by at the Kentville station.

"We'll likely be here until midnight tonight, and probably again tomorrow as well," McEachern said. He confirmed firefighters would not be spending the night at the scene. "There's only so much you can ask of volunteers."

MacEachern said Shaffer would be bringing in heavy excavating equipment to help disperse the pile.

"We're soaking it down and leveling it out, and then we'll bury it under a layer of sand," he said.

MacEachern confirmed the Department of the Environment had left the scene, but were "calling in every couple of hours" for updates.   

With files by Jennifer Hoegg