Fire spreads through concrete plant
The Norgaard Ready-Mix batch plant on Nicola Avenue is expected to be closed for about a month after it caught fire on Thursday.
Fifteen firefighters were on scene to battle the blaze around 12:30 p.m and were cleared about four hours later.
City of Merritt Fire Chief Dave Tomkinson said the fire is believed to have been caused by a welder’s torch.
“We suspect it’s either a welder’s spark, some slag, or a hot object,” Tomkinson said. “After they did the [welding], there was a crew that was on standby to watch for that type of thing, but it wasn’t detected.”
Tomkinson said the fire appears to have started in the plant’s control room, but it quickly spread up the wood cladding on the inside of the mostly concrete structure. At one point, firefighters worked to put out the fire through a hatch on the third story.
Tomkinson said the fire department is working with Norgaard Ready-Mix’s insurance company to determine the damage estimate.
Chris Grund, the company’s operations manager, said the plant was undergoing general maintenance at the time. He said it will be business as usual for the company’s current contracts, and the concrete supplier can bring in materials from Kamloops if necessary.
The plant was empty for lunch at the time the fire broke out. Nobody was injured in the blaze.
“We’d like to thank the fire department, ambulance and RCMP for their quick response,” Grund said. “We really appreciated the work they did in limiting the fire to just the section it was in.”