'Fire at the Port is now #3rdAlarm HazMat multiple containers on fire. evacuations in (progress).'

Fire at Port of Vancouver, crews respond to ‘hazmat incident’

The fire has since been contained but smoke is still clouding around the area, east of Main Street and north of 1st Avenue.

*With files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press

UPDATE: March 5, 2015 – 10:10 a.m.

In a statement issued on Thursday morning, Port Metro Vancouver says the fire has been isolated and suppressed, and the container that caught fire is being monitored by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

“Our primary concern continues to be the safety of first responders, the public and all port workers,” said Port advisor John Parker-Jervis. “Port operations have resumed on the South Shore of Burrard inlet, with the exception of the Centerm container terminal, which remains closed, and a 100 metre exclusion zone around the burning container.

“We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to all the first responders along with all partner agencies and our staff who worked tirelessly to control the situation from the moment it occurred right through the evening and overnight, and who continue to manage a coordinated response.”

UPDATE: March 5, 2015 – 9:39 a.m.

As of Thursday morning, half-a-day after three containers caught on fire at the Port of Metro Vancouver, the blaze is reportedly contained but smoke is still clouding over the downtown area around Centennial Pier and the Centerm Container Terminal.

“There is still smoke in the downtown area, although greatly reduced from last night. Air quality readings are okay, it’s safe to go outside,” Tweeted Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, just after 9 a.m.

“If the air quality bothers you, stay indoors. Trouble breathing or wheezing, seek medical attention immediately.”

Vancouver Police said the “shelter” was lifted on Wednesday night, while traffic was still disrupted. Prior to that, residents east of Main Street and north of 1st Avenue had been urged to close their windows, stay inside, and “shelter in place”.

(Original story flows below, updated on March 4 – 5 p.m.)

Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and the Vancouver Police are responding to a chemical “hazmat incident” at the Port of Metro Vancouver, amid reports that three containers are on fire at Centennial Pier.

“Vancouver Coastal Health has confirmed the material inside is a hazardous organic compound (trichloroisocyanuric acid), and is a possible eye and skin irritant,” says the Port’s John Parker-Jervis, in a statement that confirmed the fire broke out with a container at the Centerm terminal, around 1:40 p.m.

The terminal has been evacuated, the Port’s statement said, and all Burrard Inlet operations on the south shore “have been shut down, including rail and truck access”.

“Our primary concern is the safety of first responders, the public and all port workers,” said Parker-Jervis.

Global BC reports that the acid, a bleaching agent, “is burning in at least one shipping container, which is buried in the middle of a pile of containers. This container was six deep, on each side, and two high from the ground, making it very difficult for firefighters to reach it.”

Crews are advising everyone to stay clear of the area around the Port – that would be Centennial Pier and the 700 block of Centennial and Clarke Street, and Vancouver PD have asked the public to avoid the area north of Hastings and Main streets.

TransLink says the fire may force the cancellation or delay of West Coast Express (WCE) trains out of downtown.

WCE passengers are advised to take SkyTrain to Lougheed Station and then board a “Special” WCE bus that will mirror the commuter train’s route to the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge and Mission.

**********

“Fire crews still investigating the scene to determine cause of fire and potential hazardous materials,” Tweeted @VancouverFire just before 3 p.m.

After 3 o’clock, Vancouver PD’s Twitter account added, “Everyone east of Main and north of 1st Ave – close your windows, stay inside and shelter in place. Fire at Port Metro Vancouver.”

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