Area crews respond to industrial fire

"...it was a roof and stacked cardboard boxes that caught on fire, and other storage boxes that were in close proximity." - Terry Martin

Fire crews were called to the scene of an industrial fire early Wednesday morning.

Retriev Technologies, formerly known as Toxco Waste Management, was the site of what, at first glance, appeared to be a sizeable structure fire.

Once the smoke cleared and Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue was able to visually examine the rubble, the fire appeared to have originated from cardboard boxes that were stored under a metal roofed awning.

“We received quite a few calls from people who were driving by because flames of an outside storage area were visible from the highway,” explained Terry Martin, regional fire chief.

“It looked like a structure was on fire. But once we started knocking down the flames, we realized it was a roof and stacked cardboard boxes that caught on fire, and other storage boxes that were in close proximity. That’s where the flames were from.”

Steven Robinson, Retriev Technologies operations manager, told the Trail Times “a small fire originated in the post-production storage area,”

Although the cause of the fire remains under investigation, Robinson added, “there was no release that would adversely affect either the environment, our neighbours or our employees.”

Firefighters from Warfield, Trail and Montrose responded to the early morning call out, and stayed at the site for about three hours.

Martin maintains that following previous fire-related incidents at the plant, which is located in Area A of the regional district, Retriev Technologies has worked with the fire department to improve fire safety and safety aspects at the job site.

“We followed our operational guidelines and were fortunate to have so many people in town who could respond,” Martin said. “All calls are treated the same because it’s all about protection of people, the surrounding neighbours and our guys.”

No injuries were reported, or structural damage to the company’s main building.

Activities at the recycling facility resumed normal operations by 10:30 a.m.

“The safety and well-being of our employees, contractors and neighbours is a top priority,” Robinson added. “We are committed to take whatever corrective actions are necessary to help mitigate the risk of similar incidents in the future.”

Retriev Technologies operates a lithium battery recycling facility that began as the Toxco plant in 1992.

The facility takes in and recycles used batteries to recover zinc, manganese, lithium and other elements.