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Firefighters battle suspicious blazes

Two challenging fires on Wednesday evening kept Summerland firefighters busy until early the next morning.

Assistant fire chief Chad Gartrell said firefighters were called to the packing house on Jubilee Road around 11:05 p.m.

“There was quite a large smoke and fire plume. The bins are pretty large and made of easily combustible material so they were dry wood, like kindling,” said Gartrell. “After we knocked it down there were lots of small fires, and at one point we had four forklifts moving stacks of bins. In order to get into some areas we had to use a backhoe that we special ordered.”

While the fire crew was busy handling the packing house, a second call came in at 12:38 a.m. at the abandoned mill on Cedar Avenue.

“An out building was fully involved in fire. The structure had lots of small voids and spaces and when a structure is burnt as badly as that was, we had concerns for the firefighters’ safety to go under roofs because of the possibility of collapse,” said Gartrell.

Firefighters worked until about 4:30 a.m. to ensure both structures were doused and two members stayed at the abandoned mill to monitor for flare ups. Gartrell said with the amount of fire damage it is difficult to tell what the cause of the fires was and the investigation has been left with the RCMP.

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