An explosion and fire has occurred at a building storing lithium batteries waiting to be recycled at a plant in Trail, B.C.
According to a Canadian Press report, firefighters were still cleaning up Sunday afternoon from the fire that began Saturday evening at a plant owned by U.S.-based Toxco Inc. and spread to an adjacent municipal recycling facility (MRF).
RCMP said stored lithium batteries exploded after a fire started in a small underground building at the plant. The flames spread next door to bundles of plastic and cardboard at Alpine Recycling.
No injuries were reported but the fire triggered a release of poisonous sulphur dioxide gas that dissipated quickly; no evacuation was ordered by environment ministry officials, who decided to shelter residents in place.
There’s no indication of what caused the fire; the plant was closed for the weekend.
Lithium batteries are used in a variety of electronic devices, especially mobile phones and portable computers. They have been known to overheat when in use, sparking fires. Investigators will probe whether the stored lithium batteries ignited spontaneously. Toxco’s website says the incoming lithium battery waste is stored in concrete storage bunkers covered by earth.
Fifty-two fire fighters and 11 pieces of equipment were engaged battling the fire at its height and the department activated the regional district’s emergency operations centre.
The fire at Toxco was restricted to one building, while the blaze at the municipal recycling plant mostly consumed bales of cardboard and other recycled materials stored outside and caused minor heat damage to a nearby building.