Vancouver fire fighters were still on the scene Thursday morning of a fire that broke out the night before in a printing business called MET Fine Printers on the 1400 block of East Pender near Clark Drive. Investigators were also on the scene collecting evidence. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.
Pender is closed from McLean to Clark, while McLean is closed from Hastings to Adanac. Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services spokesman Jonathan Gormick told the Courier the fire call came in at just before 10 p.m. Wednesday evening.
As some of you may know, there was a fire at our shop last night. We have an extremely supportive community and we appreciate your kind messages. Updates will be posted here as they become available.— MET Fine Printers (@metprinters) April 26, 2018
"We arrived to find heavy smoke and flames in the building. It was quickly made a second alarm and then escalated to a third alarm because of the intensity of the fire, the density of the neighbourhood and the involvement of some hazardous materials," he said.
At its peak, about 65 fire department staff were on the scene. After the flames were doused, an excavator was brought in.
"We've gone through a cycle of pulling apart the collapsed parts of the building, cooling hot spots and pulling apart more of the building," Gormick said before suddenly hanging up from the interview after a car turned onto Pender and drove over a fire hose, ripping a hole in it.
"I just watched a vehicle drive under the fire line tape and over a five-inch supply hose, rip a giant hole in it and then try and speed away. Unbelievable. Jaw dropping," Gormick told the Courier afterwards.
Here is one of the MULTIPLE reasons not to drive over a fire hose. For you math aficionados, one length of supply hose has about 370kg of water in it at 8.3bar flowing at 3780+ litres per minute. When it’s container breaches.... ☠️ #vfrs #vanworkingfire pic.twitter.com/A7GRY13Fxk— Vancouver Fire (@VanFireRescue) April 26, 2018
"You rarely see this but I can't over emphasize how dangerous driving over a fire hose is because it interrupts the water supply for the crews that are in the building... Had it not been this late in the incident, it could have been pretty dangerous for the crews."
The driver was detained and Gormick suspects he'll receive a fine.
A vehicle just drove through fire line tape and over 5” supply hose. This is both illegal and EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. The hose burst immediately interrupting water supply to fire fighters at the structure. #vfrs #vanworkingfire pic.twitter.com/mDl4yD9mj6— Vancouver Fire (@VanFireRescue) April 26, 2018
The printing business was completely destroyed in the fire, but Gormick credited the quick work of crews and command staff for managing to save the buildings on either side of the fire, which he called "absolutely astonishing considering the level of devastation and destruction in the building involved."
There is some smoke damage to the wall of building to the west of the building that was involved in the fire, and some smoke damage inside it, but the structure appears to be OK. The damage will need to be assessed, however.
There is no word on the cause of the blaze.
"It's going to be a little while before the actual rubble pile is cool enough for [investigators] to even make access to where the building used to be and try to determine where the fire actually started," Gormick said. "It will be at least a few days before we even have a preliminary idea of the cause."
Some hazardous materials were in the building, which contributed to the intensity of the fire. The hazardous materials team was brought in early in the incident to deal with any possibility of plumes or toxic runoff. They were released shortly afterwards.
Gormick arrived at the scene at about 6:30 a.m. and he said firefighters were still putting out flames at that point. The excavator didn't start work until several hours later.
Photos at the scene of the 3rd alarm in the 1400 blk E Pender St earlier tonight.— Van Fire Fighters (@IAFF18) April 26, 2018
60+ firefighters battled the blaze that destroyed a printing company. pic.twitter.com/tzIqkR2WCj
#TrafficUpdate: Thanks to @VanFireRescue for the heads up on the road closure. Please avoid the area of E. Pender street between Clark Drive and McLean Drive. Please find an alternate route. #VPD https://t.co/IijqDSwckf— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) April 26, 2018
As this incident enters the 13th hour, crews continue to cool hot spots both to avoid flare ups, but also to eliminate smoke and other airborne products of combustion. Fire Investigators are now on scene collecting evidence. #vanworkingfire #vfrs @IAFF18 pic.twitter.com/1bhegWaiXz— Vancouver Fire (@VanFireRescue) April 26, 2018