It’s likely days – not weeks – before the Westminster Pier Park fire is extinguished.
Fire Chief Tim Armstrong said firefighters continue to fight the blaze on New Westminster’s waterfront, but he expects they’ll be able to put it out within a couple of days.
“We have got it probably 95% contained now. There are just still a couple of hotspots that we are having trouble accessing,” Armstrong told the Record Monday morning. “We are hoping today we will be able to access those areas of the pier and be able to knock down those last couple of hotspots. The air quality is obviously much better – there are no real health and safety concerns down in and around that area.”
Last Wednesday, Armstrong said it could be weeks before the fire was completely extinguished. Firefighters have been working around-the-clock to extinguish fire to the creosote-covered pilings below the deck.
“If we left it, it would flare up again. We have had crews on it 24-7,” he said. “I’m hoping I can officially say it’s 100% out within the next couple of days.”
As crews have extinguished portions of the fire, they’ve been able to scale back their attack. Instead of attacking the fire from both the water and land sides of the site, they’re now fighting it from the land-side only.
“Most of the hotspots are closer to the foreshore now,” Armstrong explained. “That’s where we have to get the deck off there to get access.”
The City of New Westminster's command unit is home base for firefighters and police who are attending the Westminster Pier Park fire. The fire chief expects the fire, which started Sept. 13, will completely extingished within a couple of days.
Front Street, which has been closed to motorists as it provides firefighters with access to the waterfront site, could reopen within a couple of days.
At its peak, about 70 firefighters from New Westminster and surrounding municipalities fought the fire at Westminster Pier Park, which broke out on Sunday, Sept. 13 just before 8 p.m. New Westminster Fire and Rescue Service is rotating its crews to the site, with eight to 10 firefighters on scene at any one time.
“We are working with Fraser River Pile and Dredge – they are the contractors that are working with us,” Armstrong said. “They are doing the deck removal and some of the work removing some of the debris and stuff like that.”
While the portion of Westminster Pier Park that was built on the original wood pilings and was slated to be upgraded in future years was destroyed by the fire, city officials say the newer part of the park was spared damage in the fire. That section includes pathways, a festive lawn gathering area, a concession, playgrounds and more.
“The new portion of the Westminster Pier Park is all on concrete piles,” Armstrong said. “We stopped it at the timber wharf. Eventually the new portion that was built will be open to the public.”
Asked if there are concerns about the structural integrity of the remaining portion of the park given its proximity to the fire, Armstrong said that’s not an issue.
“No. It was built to the current standards. There is no timber, no wood used in that construction,” he said. “It didn’t sustain any real damage.”