NEWS

Shelter order lifted, schools open in Squamish after fire at Nexen Beach terminal

04/17/2015 10:45 EDT | Updated 07/02/2015 11:59 EDT
A shelter-in-place order has been lifted and schools in Squamish, B.C., will be open on Friday, following a major fire at the Nexen Beach marine terminal that filled the air with thick black smoke for much of the night.

On Friday morning officials with the Sea to Sky school district said while schools will be reopened, students will be kept indoors all day.

"Our air intake vents at our schools were off as of 3:00 p.m. PT yesterday and were remotely accessed last evening to ensure they would not open this morning.  We have also had staff out checking on schools and the air quality at each of them since very early this morning," said a statement issued by the school district.

Officials with the municipality also said air quality was improved and the order to stay indoors had been lifted for now, but cautioned conditions could change.

"As fire crews continue to battle the blaze, air quality could change throughout the day due to variables such as wind, heat and fire fighting efforts. Provincial officials will continue to monitor the air quality and we will advise here if a shelter-in-place alert needs to be reinstated," said a statement issued by emergency officials.

"Brennan Park Recreation Centre will be open today as usual. As a safety precaution, any outdoor programming running today by Recreation Services will take place inside. Field users and other outdoor bookings, please check in with your organization directly to determine if your activity will go ahead," said a statement on the district's Facebook page

"The District of Squamish ... report that there is a low health risk currently across Squamish and that we may see the fire worsen as the tide goes out and the winds shift again. With this in mind, their staff are predicting that later today we may see the air quality reduced to a moderate risk level again," said the statement issued by the school district.

Ordered to stay indoors

Residents of Squamish were initially advised to stay stay indoors and close their windows and doors on Thursday evening, while emergency responders fought the large fire at the nearby marine terminal.

The fire started shortly after 6 p.m. PT Thursday at the pier, which is built from timber treated with creosote posts. Large plumes of smoke filled the sky over the town for much of the night. 

By 1 a.m., the fire was reported to be 90 per cent extinguished, but firefighters were waiting for the tide to drop so that they could access the smoldering remains of the fire under the dock.

Nobody was hurt in the fire. The cause of the fire has yet to be released. It also remains unclear how the damage will affect operations at Squamish Terminals.

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