Vernon’s latest suspicious fire has been costly, but it won’t sidetrack the local apple harvest.
About 1,200 wooden apple bins worth $100,000 were destroyed or damaged after flames erupted behind Growers Supply on Waddington Drive Monday at about 11:15 p.m.
“This is never something you want to experience but we’re thankful for the efforts of the fire department to minimize the damage,” said Chris Pollock, marketing manager for B.C. Tree Fruits, which owns the bins.
Thousands of other bins were in the vicinity and there was the concern the fire could impact them.
Despite the loss, local orchardists will still be able to access bins for the apple harvest.
“We have facilities across the Okanagan so we can transport bins to them,” said Pollock.
The bins were located at the far back corner of the property in a locked compound.
“There was a huge fire load and the flames could be seen across the city,” said Keith Green, Vernon fire chief.
A chain link fence had to be removed to gain access to the site, and an excavator was needed so firefighters could reach all of the hot spots.
“It was tough getting penetration into the pile (of bins). They’d fall over the fire and would flare up again,” said Green.
There was the possibility that the fire would spread.
“The buildings nearby were in jeopardy,” said Green.
Investigators were on scene Tuesday and while a cause has not been determined, it’s believed the fire is suspicious.
“It was dark in the back corner and there was little access. There’s not much back there that would be an ignition source,” said Green.
Officials won’t say if the Waddington Drive fire is linked to about 21 other suspicious fires in the Greater Vernon area. However, others are making those connections.
“It didn’t affect our operation but it’s pretty scary stuff what’s going on in the community,” said Stewart Hill, with Growers Supply.