Hog fuel spontaneously ignites at Merritt Green Energy project

By on December 8, 2017
Firefighters were on scene spraying down the hog fuel stored on site. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

Fifteen firefighters, an engine and a ladder truck were deployed to the Merritt Green Energy plant to help extinguished a fire which ignited in a hog fuel pile.

Crews were deployed at about 2:40 p.m. on Dec. 7 said fire chief Dave Tomkinson, and were back in the fire hall by 9 p.m.

“Basically we just monitored the situation and extinguished some flames on the outside of the timbers, while the staff dug out the hot spot,” explained Tomkinson.

Smoke and steam could be seen rising from the pile of fuel. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

Hog fuel consists of waste wood products and is prone to spontaneous combustion as heat builds up within a pile. The Merritt Green Energy project — once operational — will burn hog fuel in a specialized process to generate electricity.

Delays in the commissioning stage have pushed back the operational start date for the plant until sometime in the new year.

“There is a balance between how long the fuels are in the bins, or stored — at any of the mill yards — and the climatic conditions they are being stored in,” said Tomkinson. “We would prefer they weren’t around for long, so that it reduces the risk.”

Merritt Fire Rescue sent an engine and a ladder truck to the Merritt Green Energy plant on Dec. 7. (Cole Wagner/Herald).

The length of time the fuels had been stockpiled at the Merritt Green Energy project was likely a contributing factor to the fire being sparked in the first place, said Tomkinson.

But other than a few damaged timbers in the storage enclosure, Merritt’s fire chief said the blaze didn’t cause any substantial damage to the site.

One Comment

  1. Ernie Thiessen

    December 10, 2017 at 7:31 am

    Approximately 20 years or more ago the hog fuel piles in the Armstrong Plant was on fire. They learned then to rotate the piles with a bulldozer fairly frequently. This prevents the combustion from firing up again.

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