The billowing black smoke from fire at the south end of Trites Road around 5 p.m.on Saturday, Aug. 11 was visible from Steveston Highway and Gilbert Road.
Fueled by the 120-year-old wood in the former Colonial Cannery and a creosote-soaked wharf, the fire burned hot and spread fast.
“The fire travelled above the sprinklers and under the roof,” Steveston Harbour Authority general manager Jaime Da Costa told The Richmond Sentinel, adding that the fire appeared to start at the south end of the building.
Seen in some of the photos, the red hot fire shone out from under the metal roof cladding the wooden structure.
“It was a natural progression. We had the Richmond Fire Department respond to the fire. We had our own fireboat which we constructed several years ago, our director of operations and maintenance, Jim Jones, and actually a volunteer, Carl Lund, who was here from Victoria Alarms working on our camera system.”
“Jim got the call about the fire and deployed the fire boat. He and Carl fought the fire from the water.”
The $70,000 fire boat, approved by the non-profit harbour authority’s board a few years ago, proved a key member of the team.
“We were told by the Richmond Fire Department that if we didn’t have the support on the water it would have been much worse," Da Costa said. “We were lucky the tide was low, Jim drove right under the wharf and was able to extinguish it.”
Da Costa was also quick to praise and thank Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Society for their effective presence.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Richmond Fire-Rescue deputy chief Kevin Gray.
“We’ve had lots of reports of different things. That’s why we ask for any pictures or video people may have taken. We always welcome them because they give a different perspective. We take that all that information in.”
Da Costa has nothing but good to say about the teamwork among the Harbour Authority, RCMSARS and the fire department.
It was only through working together the outcome wasn’t worse.
“God forbid it happens again, we want to make it more seamless, an even better process,” Da Costa said.