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Large debris fire at Mcgee Lake still burning, residents warned to avoid smoke


MCGEE LAKE - Two days later, firefighters are still battling a blaze that broke out at a construction and demolition waste disposal site on North River Road March 22.  

“We’ve brought in some heavy equipment to be able to get into the root of the problem, so hopefully we’ll make a lot of headway here today,” said Kentville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ryan MacEachern March 24. 

MacEachern estimates the pile at the site south of Kentville to be 200 to 300 feet long and high.

“It’s years of piles packed in, so it’s basically burning like a hay bale. The only way to get at it is to keep pulling back the layers and pulling it out as it goes. And the pile is big,” he said.

“It’d be as big as a couple buildings put together easily and that’s all just packed debris.”

For the second day in a row, the Municipality of Kings has issued a caution to residents in the area, saying the debris on fire "may contain combustible materials that produce smoke that may be harmful to some individuals."

 In a March 24 media release, Kings County officials urged people liveing between 1800 and 3000 North River Road to keep windows and doors closed for the day. Those living or driving between 3000 and 4000 Highway 12 - the New Ross Road - should also keep building and vehicle windows shut. 

"Those with respiratory concerns should stay indoors," the release said. "Avoid outdoor activities in those areas where the smoke plume is visible."

Several fire departments in Kings County have offered mutual aid, and Hantsport’s firefighters came to the scene to offer support the morning of March 24.

“We’re kind of cycling through our people just so we don’t burn out our own people and tie up our resources,” said MacEachern, who noted that they still have to be prepared to provide routine fire services.

The landfill fire, he said, is the result of spontaneous combustion.

“What’s happened is there’s too much of the wrong debris in there; some waste that shouldn’t be.”

He said staff from the Department of Environment has been on the scene, and the property owner, Derrick Shaffer, is assisting.

 “It’s construction materials and it’s probably tougher than we know to keep it perfect,” said MacEachern.

“I know Derrick is trying his best to do what he can do.” 

There was a similar fire at the site about two years ago, MacEachern said. Since then, Kentville Fire Deputy Chief Jeff Martin has taken a training course in landfill fires.

MacEachern said Martin’s knowledge will help them extinguish the fire, and reduce the likelihood of another breaking out. Crews are working on spreading the pile out and placing the appropriate amounts of soil in between layers of rubble.

“Once you put that layer of soil in between four or five feet of debris, you’ve now eliminated the ability for it to combust because there’s not enough air in there,” he said. “You’ve smothered it.”

“We’ve brought in some heavy equipment to be able to get into the root of the problem, so hopefully we’ll make a lot of headway here today,” said Kentville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ryan MacEachern March 24. 

MacEachern estimates the pile at the site south of Kentville to be 200 to 300 feet long and high.

“It’s years of piles packed in, so it’s basically burning like a hay bale. The only way to get at it is to keep pulling back the layers and pulling it out as it goes. And the pile is big,” he said.

“It’d be as big as a couple buildings put together easily and that’s all just packed debris.”

For the second day in a row, the Municipality of Kings has issued a caution to residents in the area, saying the debris on fire "may contain combustible materials that produce smoke that may be harmful to some individuals."

 In a March 24 media release, Kings County officials urged people liveing between 1800 and 3000 North River Road to keep windows and doors closed for the day. Those living or driving between 3000 and 4000 Highway 12 - the New Ross Road - should also keep building and vehicle windows shut. 

"Those with respiratory concerns should stay indoors," the release said. "Avoid outdoor activities in those areas where the smoke plume is visible."

Several fire departments in Kings County have offered mutual aid, and Hantsport’s firefighters came to the scene to offer support the morning of March 24.

“We’re kind of cycling through our people just so we don’t burn out our own people and tie up our resources,” said MacEachern, who noted that they still have to be prepared to provide routine fire services.

The landfill fire, he said, is the result of spontaneous combustion.

“What’s happened is there’s too much of the wrong debris in there; some waste that shouldn’t be.”

He said staff from the Department of Environment has been on the scene, and the property owner, Derrick Shaffer, is assisting.

 “It’s construction materials and it’s probably tougher than we know to keep it perfect,” said MacEachern.

“I know Derrick is trying his best to do what he can do.” 

There was a similar fire at the site about two years ago, MacEachern said. Since then, Kentville Fire Deputy Chief Jeff Martin has taken a training course in landfill fires.

MacEachern said Martin’s knowledge will help them extinguish the fire, and reduce the likelihood of another breaking out. Crews are working on spreading the pile out and placing the appropriate amounts of soil in between layers of rubble.

“Once you put that layer of soil in between four or five feet of debris, you’ve now eliminated the ability for it to combust because there’s not enough air in there,” he said. “You’ve smothered it.”

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