UPDATD: Extent of damage at Revelstoke bio-energy plant being investigated

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services took three hours to extinguish fire at district heating facility early Monday morning.

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services battle a blaze at the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation plant late Sunday night.

Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services battle a blaze at the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation plant late Sunday night.

A fire late Sunday night caused serious damage to the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation heating plant.

Fire chief Rob Girard says Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services were called to the fire shortly before midnight on Sunday, Feb. 22.

“Upon arrival, fire crews found heavy smoke pouring from all sides of the building and began an interior fire attack,” said Girard. “Within minutes the fire conditions changed and and we had heavy fire in the roof of the structure and had to withdraw our interior fire crew and transitioned to an exterior attack.”

A team of 23 fire fighters and full complement of vehicles attended the fire. The department made use of its new aerial ladder truck to attack the blaze from above.

“This really turned the fire around for us,” he said.

The fire was extinguished and overhauled in a little more than three hours, with no injuries to any fire fighters.

The building was empty when the fire broke out.

“The career and volunteer firefighters worked tirelessly on this fire and I am proud of what they accomplished given the circumstances,” said Girard. “We realize how important this facility is to the community.”

The fire destroyed the roof of the building, said Girard. The equipment did not experience any fire damage, but “it has severe water damage,” he added.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

RCEC manager Larry Marchand had yet to inspect the damage as of press time.

“We’re not really at that point yet. We’re not supposed to go inside the building,” he said.

RCEC has a backup propane system to deliver heat to customers, but that system is located inside the plan and may have also been damaged, said Marchand.

“The control system for the propane backup is compromised, we think,” he said.

He said they were working on getting a temporary boiler installed within the next 72 hours in order to restore service. “We’re very aware of the urgent nature of responding so we’re looking at ways of responding.”

RCEC uses wood waste from Downie Timber to provide heat to a number of buildings around Revelstoke, including Revelstoke Secondary School, Begbie View Elementary, Minto Manor, city hall, and the community centre. It also provides heat to the dry kilns at Downie Timber.

The schools both have independent backup heating systems. It was not known as of press time how the city buildings were impacted.

According to RCEC’s latest financial statements, the heating plant is worth about $2.5 million.

This is the second fire in a little more than five years at the district heating facility. A fire broke out in the rear of the building in December 2009. That fire did not spread into the main equipment room and RCEC was able to continue delivering heat to its customers using the backup propane system.

It took about a month to restore service.