Investigation into cause of Lavington pellet plant fire underway

The Pinnacle Pellet Plant in Lavington.
Image Credit: Pinnacle Renewable Energy Group

VERNON - The cause of a fire at a North Okanagan pellet plant yesterday is under investigation.

The fire broke out around 4 p.m. yesterday, March 29, at the Pinnacle Renewable Energy pellet plant off School Road in Lavington. No one was hurt and the blaze was brought under control by firefighters.

In a written statement, Pinnacle president Leroy Reitsma says the fire occurred inside one of the dryers. Pellet plants use the dryers to dry out wood chips before compressing them into pellets. 

“The plant was not in regular operation at the time of the event which occurred immediately following a day of maintenance procedures,” Reitsma says. “The cause of the fire is currently under investigation with our focus being on accurately determining the cause.”

WorkSafe B.C. sent two officers to the site Wednesday morning ‘out of an abundance of caution’ spokesperson Scott McCloy says.

The officers attended the site for roughly two hours and did not write any compliance orders, McCloy says.

“There were no immediate compliance issues identified,” McCloy says. “From our perspective we simply took a look at the facility, spoke with the employer, and the employer is conducting an investigation as required.”

Pinnacle is required to share the findings of its investigation into the cause within 30 days.

McCloy confirms the mill was in a maintenance shut down at the time and fortunately not operating.

“I think everybody is pleased there were no injuries,” McCloy says.

The pellet plant went into operation in September 2015, and some local residents have expressed concerns about air quality, the risk of fires, and the proximity to Lavington Elementary School. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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