A black plume of smoke rose over Columbia Avenue on Wednesday morning as a truck burned on 12th Street.
The Castlegar Fire Department received a call at 9:29 a.m. and arrived on scene to find a contractor’s truck on fire.
“When I arrived on scene we had what we describe as a one-ton cube van, 3500 GMC contractors’ van that was fully involved,” explained Sam Lattanzio, Castlegar’s fire chief. “It looked like the contractors were just pulling up to a work site and the van obviously caught on fire.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it seems to have started in either the engine compartment or below the engine compartment, near the transmission.
The majority of the flames appeared to be in the cab, which poured fourth acrid smoke as the firefighters worked to douse the blaze. There were also bright white sparks spraying from the cab.
“When you see that kind of stuff it can indicate potential metal that’s burning and with those type of vehicles there’s a lot of aluminum and magnesium,” said Lattanzio. “And the other thing that we were looking for [was] batteries. With contractors, they use a lot of power tools [with] lithium type batteries, and … lithium burns when water is introduced. I’m not saying that’s what it was, but those are the types of things that we look for when there’s fires.”
In this case, Lattanzio doesn’t believe lithium was involved, but there was probably aluminum or magnesium burning inside the engine compartment.
While the worst of the damage was to the cab, the front end of the box was also badly damaged. Some of the contractors’ tools were damaged, but a lot of them were able to be salvaged and saved.