Creek impacted by ‘millions of litres’ of chlorinated water used to fight B.C. condo fire

Fire consumed a condo development project under construction at 208th Street and 80th Avenue Monday night, April 19. Many spectators shared their images. (Daniel Gerstner/Instagram: @gerstner/Special to Langley Advance Times)Fire consumed a condo development project under construction at 208th Street and 80th Avenue Monday night, April 19. Many spectators shared their images. (Daniel Gerstner/Instagram: @gerstner/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Fire consumed a condo development project under construction at 208th Street and 80th Avenue Monday night, April 19. Many spectators shared their images. (Daniel Gerstner/Instagram: @gerstner/Special to Langley Advance Times)Fire consumed a condo development project under construction at 208th Street and 80th Avenue Monday night, April 19. Many spectators shared their images. (Daniel Gerstner/Instagram: @gerstner/Special to Langley Advance Times)
“Upstream side of the log jam - not only does stuff settle out of the water but harmful things that float were trapped at the log jam,” reads YWES photo caption that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)“Upstream side of the log jam - not only does stuff settle out of the water but harmful things that float were trapped at the log jam,” reads YWES photo caption that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)
“While log jams are hard for our spawning salmon to get through this one might have helped save a few. Complexing like this creates pools in the stream channel, this one helped slow the flow of the water from fighting the fire and allow a lot of particulates to settle out of the stream,” reads YWES photo caption in an image that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)“While log jams are hard for our spawning salmon to get through this one might have helped save a few. Complexing like this creates pools in the stream channel, this one helped slow the flow of the water from fighting the fire and allow a lot of particulates to settle out of the stream,” reads YWES photo caption in an image that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)
“REALLY hard to see, but if you look closely right in the middle of the picture you can see three tiny coho fry in Yorkson Creek at McClughan Park,” reads YWES photo caption in an image that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)“REALLY hard to see, but if you look closely right in the middle of the picture you can see three tiny coho fry in Yorkson Creek at McClughan Park,” reads YWES photo caption in an image that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)
“Big slug of foam still left over from the fire fighting upstream,” reads YWES photo caption in an image that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)“Big slug of foam still left over from the fire fighting upstream,” reads YWES photo caption in an image that was shared the day after the April 19 fire. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)
Foam in the 86th Avenue culvert on April 20, 2021. The Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society said a school of coho fry were found alive just down stream. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)Foam in the 86th Avenue culvert on April 20, 2021. The Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society said a school of coho fry were found alive just down stream. (Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society Facebook)

A massive fire that tore through a condo complex in Willoughby in April didn’t impact just the developer and residents who were left dealing with the aftermath.

There was significant environmental impact to the Yorkson Creek.

The morning after the raging fire took hold of the under-construction Alexander Square condo complex on April 19 a volunteer with the Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society (YWES) discovered the Yorkson Creek had been damaged by the blaze.

READ MORE: Willoughby Fire: The aftermath of the inferno in Langley

“The millions of gallons of chlorinated [municipal] water used for fire suppression from 10 p.m. Monday evening to 2 p.m. Tuesday the next day, entered nearby catch basins and storm sewers that flowed west two blocks and directly entered the Yorkson Creek at 80th Avenue,” explained Nat Cicuto, board chair of the Yorkson Watershed Enhancement Society.

Transported with the water was burn particulate and resins from melted asphalt shingles, dry wall, plastics, glass, and wood, he said.

Cicuto was the first on site on behalf of the YWES at 7 a.m. on April 20 to inspect the stream.

“I immediately noticed surface foam on the water, and some discolouration, and higher than expected stream flows,” he recalled.

Cicuto then took water samples from the south side and north side of the 80th Avenue culvert crossing.

“The south side was a very low stream flow, but very clear baseline water taken as a baseline sample of what the water quality should be on the north side of the crossing,” he explained. “I then took a water sample from the north side and transported both samples to the nearest [water testing lab] in Langley City.”

The results, Cicuto said, exceeded the ministry standard for chlorine. He called the chemical a “fish killer,” but admitted he didn’t immediately discover any dead.

Although harmful, this fire damage wasn’t the worst he’s seen.

In September 2018 a large bark mulch fire at Langley’s Cloverdale Fuel, a wood recycling and by-products company, burned for more than four days.

Cicuto recalls the environmental impact of that fire “horribly” worse.

“Millions of gallons of fire-contaminated, chlorinated, fire-suppression water entered the nearby Yorkson Creek and flowed north through Katzie Reserve 2 where it entered the Fraser River, and continued from there,” he explained.

Cicuto said that fire was when he learned that the Township of Langley Fire Department’s response is three tiered: first protect life, second protect property, third protect the environment.

Andy Hewitson, deputy chief with the Township of Langley, confirmed the tactical priorities.

“The Township has regulatory processes in place at all times to ensure our waterways are protected,” Hewitson said.

“As a member of the fire department this is not my area of expertise, however I have been advised that overall jurisdiction and related responsibilities associated with the protection of streams lies with the provincial government [Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations] in conjunction with the federal government [Fisheries and Oceans Canada].”

However, a Township media spokesperson confirmed the chlorinated water to battle the Alexander Square fire was not treated before it entered the storm drains to Yorkson Creek.

“Crews and technical staff did inspect/monitor the receiving water course, and reported no damage to infrastructure or the environment,” the nameless individual said.

“However, as a result of this large fire, the Township will be developing a major fires protocol in consultation with the fire department.”

The protocol is expected to take up to six months to develop and implement. The Township said it will not include external consultation.

READ MORE: Fire at large woodpile fire at Langley’s Cloverdale Fuel still smouldering

It was after the Cloverdale Fuel fire that Cicuto said the society learned it needed to improve its response time and work more closely with planners, and decision makers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and local governments.

“There definitely is room for improvement of communication and bringing together more resources at critical times,” he admitted. “By the time the fire crews reach step three, they’re often tired having worked for 14 hours or five days straight in some cases. We need fresh crews to show up on site with step three in mind, after the site has been deemed safe to work safely around fire crews.”

The blaze in Willoughby on Monday, April 19 at 208th Street and 80th Avenue, first reported around 9:30 p.m. prompted a response from 76 firefighters, including additional support from City of Langley members.

Hewitson estimated millions of litres of water was used to battle the blaze.

“The underground parking area retained a very large quantity of the water used during operations and is currently being removed from site by contractors working for property management,” he said.

The Alexander Square apartment complex consisted of four buildings, each in various stages of construction, with two levels of concrete parkade and six levels of wood-frame construction, according to Metro-Can Construction, the general contractor for the site.

READ MORE: Langley condo fire cleanup may start soon

The total footprint of the four-building complex was 103,000 sq. ft. The complex had a total of 308 units, according to Laura Cropper, a media relations person with Metro-Can.

The cleanup for the condo fire was expected to begin May 10 and the developer pledged to keep affected owners informed.


Have a story tip? Email: joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

EnvironmentfireFishLangley

Just Posted

UVic Department of Anthropology chair and professor, April Nowell, at home with a copy of her new book, Growing Up In the Ice Age. (Courtesy of April Nowell)
New book by University of Victoria professor explores lives of Ice Age children

April Nowell spent two decades researching archaeological evidence of children, teens

Saanich Neighbourhood Place is hoping to open the doors to its new centre in July, pending final council approval. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich childcare agency awaits final approval on much-needed new facility

Saanich Neighbourhood Place keen to open new centre this summer, expand options for community

Proposed design for the Topaz Park bike and skate park elements. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Victoria requesting feedback on Topaz Park redesign

Public input now being taken for proposed skate, bike park ideas

Victoria police are searching for high-risk missing woman Chloe Morrison who was last seen in Victoria June 13. (Courtesy of VicPD)
MISSING: Chloe Morrison, last seen in Victoria

Morrison, 25, was last seen shortly after 2 p.m. June 13

Processed sewage is still being deposited at the Hartland landfill rather than sent as biosolids to a Richmond cement plant. (Black Press Media file photo)
Biosolids at Hartland still being placed on landfill in Saanich

Richmond cement plant up and running, but CRD end product not suitable for purpose

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Most Read