Residents of a Vernon trailer park prepared to evacuate their homes Monday night as a fire started at the Vernon landfill burned out of control. The fire was estimated to be about half a hectare in size, but could grow depending on wind conditions.
"We're all packed up and ready to go if they give us the order," Mardi King, who lives at the Kalview Trailer Park, said at 7 p.m. Monday.
"We can see the flames, and there's a lot of smoke," said King, who estimated the leading edge of the fire was within a few hundred metres of the community.
Fifty firefighters from several departments, backed by a bucketing helicopter, were trying to put out the blaze. At least two air tankers were en route to the scene, said City of Vernon spokeswoman Courtenay Pitcher.
"The fire's not under control, and the wind has really come up," Pitcher said. "It's mostly burning in grass right now, but the flames have got into the trees as well."
The blaze started about 4:30 p.m when a grinder at the landfill, used to compact wood and organic debris, caught on fire. Flames quickly spread into the debris pile, and then began moving beyond the perimeter of the landfill.
The operator of the grinder, who was not hurt, called in the fire. Pitcher estimated the size of the fire at about half a hectare, but said it could spread rapidly, depending on wind conditions.
An evacuation alert was being considered for the trailer park and for residents on Clerke Road in Coldstream, Pitcher said.
The Greater Vernon landfill is located at 120 Birnie Rd., on the south side of the city, just west of Highway 97.