Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services responded to a fire at the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation, Feb. 11.
Crews put out the fire and investigated to ensure it hadn’t spread.
The facility uses a biomass boiler to produce hot water for heating by burning wood waste produced by Downie Timber. It is a city-owned corporation.
It heats the community centre, including the aquatic centre, arena, Revelstoke Secondary School, Begbie View Elementary, city hall, the Revelstoke federal building, which hosts Parks Canada and Canada Post and a couple of other facilities.
Around noon, the city announced that the aquatic centre would be closed until further notice due to a disruption in energy supply. However, the community centre remains open as they have shifted to their back up heating system.
Superintendent Mike Hooker said Begbie View and Revelstoke Secondary School are not impacted as they have a boiler heating system as a back-up.
The corporation was launched in 2005. Since then, there have been three fires in the facility, with the most serious in 2015 when damages and revenue lost totalled more than $1.6 million, which was covered by insurance. The most recent one was on Nov. 29, 2020.
Larry Marchand, manager of the corporation, said they do not yet know the cause of the Feb. 11 fire, but they have their suspicions.
“We think it is a similar event (to the 2015 fire), kind of shocking and a little bit gut-wrenching, of course,” he said.
The 2015 fire required more than $1 million in fixes to get the system back online, including upgrading the building to increase access to the system for better maintenance and cleaning, changing the sprinkler system and updating the operating protocols to include more frequent cleaning of the combuster.
“That was working just fine,” Marchand said.
The main system will remain offline until repaired and approved by Technical Safety BC.
Though there is a propane-fueled back-up system onsite, Marchand said that it temporarily failed, even after power was restored to the building, on Feb. 11.
Most of RCEC’s clients have backups, and the system was able to borrow extra heat from the school district’s back up system to provide for buildings that do not have other systems, Marchand said.
He was very thankful to the school district for agreeing to run their boilers more than needed to share heat back into the system.