A fire that started via spontaneous combustion at a compost facility near Cache Creek on the weekend of May 9 under control but still burning, and causing smoke which is affecting nearby communities and residents.
The fire is at the former mushroom compost facility operated by Pacific Substrate Ltd. approximately 10 km east of Cache Creek, just off Highway 1. The facility now produces compost from food waste.
Facility manager Jim Lambert says that he and his employees have been making every effort to contain and extinguish the blaze since it was detected, using equipment and water at the site and bringing in more sprinklers. A containment line has been made around the affected area to stop the spread of the fire.
BC Wildfire Service has said that as it is on private property, and does not threaten any nearby structures, communities, or Crown Land, the fire is outside their jurisdiction. As it is not a wildfire, it does not appear on the BC Wildfire site as an active fire.
Local governments, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line, BC Wildfire, and the Ministry of the Environment have all received calls and emails of complaint about the heavy, acrid smoke generated by the smouldering fire. Due to atmospheric conditions, the smoke is most noticeable in the evenings and throughout the night, tending to dissipate in the morning as the temperature rises.
The facility’s authorization comes from the province, meaning that it is not licensed or overseen by the TNRD or any other local government. The province has stated that the situation is under the jurisdiction of the Conservation Officers Service, which has had staff at the site on several occasions to monitor the situation.
On Tuesday, May 12 the Journal learned that the Ministry of the Environment was sending monitoring equipment to the site, to measure air quality. If air quality exceeds acceptable levels, the province has the authority to order additional crew and equipment to the site to help extinguish the fire.
As of press time (May 12) the fire was still burning but was under control. There was no timeline as to when it might be extinguished.
Anyone concerned about the smoke can send an email to the Regional Operations Compliance Group at email@example.com, using the subject line “Urgent Complaint: Compost Fire East of Cache Creek”.