Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority was alerted to an Esso gas station fire late Monday night.
BRFA fought the fire for three and a half hours and contained it to the pumps which suffered major damage. Luckily no injuries have been reported as the gas station was closed when the fire started. The fire has been deemed non-suspicious by the BFRA.
After an investigation, BRFA determined the fire was started by an electrical failure. Fire Chief Dan Heney says it was a heat tracing issue.
“Normally you would think someone dumped their ashtray or something into the garbage can but we believe the heat tracing that was used on the downspouts that come from the awning. It looks like the heat tracing failed.”
Heney says when the heat tracing fails it’s equivalent to turning on your stove burner and watching it just keep heating up.
“Ultimately it heated the downspout enough that it started to melt which dripped into the garbage can which lit the can on fire and then it just spread.”
While a fire at a gas station could seem like an explosion waiting to happen Heney says there are many safety features with these pumps that help reduce the risk.
“There are a lot of check valves between the underground tanks and the pumps themselves and the check valves are designed to isolate the fuel. Even when the fuel is flowing there are no more than one or two liters inside the pump.”
Crews were ready to deliver firefighting foam if there had been burning fuel present during the fire.