An explosion and fire at Ritchie Smith Feeds on Wednesday afternoon were due to welding repairs done earlier in the day, according to Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service.
Assistant Fire Chief Dave Rivett said the welding may have heated some latent materials on the inside wall of a grain silo, resulting in embers coming down and igniting combustible dusts, causing an explosion.
A service contractor doing “hot works” repairs was nearby on the roof at the time, but was able to get down safely, Rivett said.
When fire crews arrived on the scene at 33777 Enterprise Ave., smoke was coming from the grain tower, and the fire was contained to the inside.
They gained access to the roof using two aerial ladder trucks. They had to make a hole in the bottom of the silo to avoid it from being further damaged or collapsing due to the weight of the water being used to fight the fire.
“The outside temperatures and the location of the fire deeply inside the equipment made this a very difficult fire to extinguish,” Rivett said.
One firefighter suffered a minor injury during ground operations when he lost his footing. He was treated on the scene.
A total of 12 career firefighters, 24 auxiliary firefighters and nine trucks from Abbotsford responded to the incident. Assistance was provided by Mission Fire Rescue, which sent one truck and crew.
Ritchie Smith produces animal feed. The building is located in the industrial area west of the Abbotsford-Mission Highway.