The future of recycling in the North Okanagan is temporarily uncertain after a devastating fire.
A mass of flames engulfed the Bluewater Project recycling facility at the Greater Vernon landfill at about 9:30 p.m. Friday. It was here that every local residential blue bag was sorted.
â€œWe have some options. It may mean shipping to Kelowna,â€ said Dale Danallanko, recycling and disposal facilities operations manager with the Regional District of North Okanagan.
The office and equipment area were completely destroyed, while firefighters were able to save the bundling area.
RDNO will ultimately have to determine if a new facility is constructed as it owns the building and land.
â€œWe are looking to see what equipment is salvageable,â€ said Kim Dianocky, manager of Bluewater, the firm that has the contract to sort recycling.
Bluewater has about 30 employees on site on a daily basis.
â€œThey are devastated. Itâ€™s the unknown, where do we go from here?â€ said Dianocky.
â€œI have been there 11 years and it feels like my house burned down.â€
The first reports of the fire came from Coldstream residents who could see a bright glow in the night sky.
â€œThere was a lot of equipment in there, hundreds of plastic bags and cardboard,â€ said Jack Blair, Vernon deputy fire chief.
â€œThere was also the release of propane gas (from canisters) which made the fire violent.â€
The primary goal of firefighters was to keep the blaze from spreading.
â€œIt was a defensive fire. We werenâ€™t going to send anyone in there,â€ said Blair.
A lack of fire hydrants meant water had to be hauled in constantly by crews from the Vernon, Coldstream and BX-Swan Lake fire departments.
Access to the site became challenging as Birnie Road, which leads to the landfill, is narrow and there was little room for fire trucks to turn around.
Bundles of recycling will need to be ripped open to reveal any hot spots.
â€œWe will keep an eye on it,â€ said Blair.
A cause had not been determined at press time.
â€œItâ€™s far too dangerous to get into it at this point. We need to fully suppress the fire first,â€ said Blair.
Residents hauling trash to the landfill are asked to be cautious.
â€œAnyone with respiratory issues should delay their visit because it is smoky up here or they can go to our Armstrong or Lumby facilities,â€ said Trafford Hall, RDNO administrator.