VIDEO: Rubber fire spews heavy smoke

"Extremely hard to put out," assistant fire chief says

Firefighters battle a blaze at an Abbotsford rubber mat factory.

Firefighters battle a blaze at an Abbotsford rubber mat factory.



A towering column of black smoke billowed over a rubber mat factory in Abbotsford after a blaze broke out Thursday morning.

The fire began at about 9:30 a.m. in an inventory yard at North-West Rubber Mats, where industrial floor mats are made from used tires.

A burnt-rubber smell hung for some time around a large portion of the city, including areas far from the plant’s location on Industrial Way, off of McCallum Road and west of Highway 11.

The blaze took several hours and numerous firefighters wearing protective breathing gear to subdue.

(CTV photo)

“Fire crews set up a defensive attack from the three available sides of the building,” said Assistant Fire Chief Craig Bird. “The rubber mat materials on fire were extremely hard to put out, and were stacked on pallets 10 to 12 feet high.”

Firefighters used foam retardant to smother the flames.

North-West CEO Layton Friesen said the company’s 70-odd employees were evacuated from the complex, but the plant manager stayed to pull away more rubber so the fire wouldn’t spread. The man was hospitalized with smoke inhalation, but is expected to make a full recovery, Friesen said. No other injuries were reported.

Friesen said a “relatively small amount” of his company’s inventory was damaged, though he couldn’t estimate a dollar value. At press time, it was unclear how the fire started or the dollar value of the damage. Firefighters say the cause is not being treated at suspicious.

The flames were out by mid-afternoon, and Friesen expected normal operations at the plant to soon resume.

Abbotsford police gave support to ensure the scene was secure. BC Ambulance crews were on hand if needed to treat firefighters, but none were injured.

Abbotsford Police blocked traffic on Industrial Way and issued an online statement warning drivers of low visibility on Highway 11 and McCallum Road.