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

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

This bird’s eye view shows the tanker truck fire on Highway 24. Black smoke could be seen from a far distance. (Photo submitted by Kurtis Rainer)
RCMP respond to tanker fire in Little Fort

The Clearwater detachment responded to 37 calls this past week.

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

logo
Evacuation alert issued for residents south of Lytton

The TNRD Emergency Operations Centre in Kamloops says a wildfire in the area poses a threat to structures and residents.

Most Read