UPDATE: Burning barge owned by same company as summer fire: official

*This story has been updated.

An Environment Ministry spokesman has now confirmed that the barge on fire off the shore of New Westminster is owned by the same company involved in a similar barge fire at the same location on Aug. 10.

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Officials are keeping a close watch on air and water quality along the lower Fraser River after a fire aboard a recycling barge moored sent dense, black smoke billowing over parts of Greater Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver did not issue air quality warnings Tuesday night but a spokesman with Surrey's fire department said the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority harbour master was checking water quality in the river.

A fireboat from Vancouver helped knock down the flames several hours after they broke out at about 5 p.m. on the barge at Schnitzer Metal Recyclers.

In both cases, the barge was loaded with what the ministry describes as "end-of-life, depolluted materials" such as crushed vehicles and appliances.

The 76-metre barge remains afloat, tethered to the Fraser River foreshore, while an investigation into the cause of the fire continues.

fire boats
A fire boat can be seen pouring water on the burning barge. - MATT LORENZI

The barge is located near Bridgeview, just east of the Pattullo Bridge. A fire boat arrived last night to pour water on the blaze. Two backhoes were moved off the barge, so that firefighters could tackle the flames with hoses. Firefighters said upper levels of the load needed to be removed to get water on the fire that had reached deeper levels.

As fire crews were responding, some expressed concern and frustration on Twitter that the fire will continue to burn out of control and choke New West with smoke like it did back in August.

smoke
Another angle of the barge fire. - @FayantDeborah

“I hope for everyone’s sake they have their operating permit revoked,” said New West resident Matt Lorenzi on Twitter @stickers66. “Once is one thing. This is bush league.”

“Also, where are the water cannons? Or is this just allowed to burn down.”

On Aug. 10, crews were on scene since the early morning hours battling a fire on a barge containing compacted cars, sending a giant plume of noxious smoke into the air. The fully loaded 76-metre barge was moored just north of the Pattullo Bridge.

  • With files from The Canadian Press

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