Waste facility “significantly” damaged by fire

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GEORGEFIELD: A fire has damaged the waste/recycling transfer station at the Municipality of East Hants (MEH) Waste Management Facility in Georgefield. The June 3 fire is believed to have started early Sunday morning before smoke was spotted last night.

At a media briefing on the morning of June 4, Andrea Trask, Manager of Solid Waste for MEH, said a spark is believed to have started the fire inside the facility at about 2 a.m. June 3, however the smoke was only noticed by a neighbour around 9 p.m. That’s when 911 was called.

“We’re going to get our insurance company out and have it inspected with engineers,” said Trask. “We will see where we go from there.”

The pile of garbage that had to be removed by heavy equipment that was on fire inside the building. (Healey photo)

The fire was located in the garbage pile in the transfer station, which holds both garbage and recyclable materials. There was about 20 tonne—or one load—of garbage in the building at the time, she estimated.

“I don’t think we’ll ever find out exactly what started the fire,” she said.

She said multiple fire crews from East Hants responded, and heavy equipment were utilized to bring the garbage out into the yard and spread out. It was suppressed that way.

Trask said the building design kept it inside.

“Luckily we had a neighbour in the area who saw some smoke and notified our team, we came out and checked it and then got the 911 call out,” she said, adding there is no staff on site on Sundays.

The Waste Management Centre is closed on June 4 to all customers to allow for clean up and securing alternatives for managing the materials.

Andrea Trask, Manager of Solid Waste for the Municipality of East Hants, spoke to media at the Waste Management Centre in Georgefield on the morning of June 4 about the fire on Sunday night at the facility. (Healey photo)

She said the video footage they had showed the most significant part of the fire happened within the first 10 minutes before it smouldered into itself. On the footage there was a small spark. There is no system in place to notify staff of anything wrong or a fire suppression unit in the steel and concrete-built building. Regular household garbage was inside at the time.

“Likely if someone hadn’t called us we would have shown up at the site this morning and would have seen the smoulder and smoke and would have called it in,” said Trask. “Solid waste is its own fuel. It certainly caught up pretty quickly and stayed in the garbage side of it so the recycling side did not catch.”

Trask said contingency plans are in place. There was some cleanup to do. She said thankfully June 4 was not any solid waste collection.

“We will start to rearrange how we’re managing things on site until we can come up with a more long-term solution,” she said.