Massive fire likely ‘completely destroyed’ section of New Westminster’s Pier Park: mayor

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A massive, four-alarm fire at New Westminster’s Pier Park continued to fill the air with smoke on Monday morning after breaking out the night before.

Devastating fire in Pier Park this evening. Just spoke to our Fire Chief. We are receiving assistance from fire departments across the region. The fire is being contained to the old part of the pier, but it is likely the old pier of the park will be completely destroyed. pic.twitter.com/Yvdfg4vPYN

Three schools in the area — Qayqayt Elementary, Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Queensborough Middle School — have been closed and parents are being asked to keep kids at home.

Fire Chief Tim Armstrong told Global News they received a call around 8 p.m. about a brush fire that had started along Front Street near the SkyTrain bridge.

It was too dangerous to put crews on the wharf, he added, and they needed some tugs and a Vancouver fire boat to get at the fire burning beneath the pier.

Crews had the fire somewhat under control by about 11 p.m., but the fire chief said crews would remain on scene overnight, and would likely spend much of Monday continuing to deal with hot spots.

“We’ve got an excavator coming in right now to punch holes into the decking. And that’s when we can get some access to the fire.”

Armstrong cautioned that toxic fumes from the creosote could pose some health risk to the public, and advised people to stay clear.

Among them was city councillor Chuck Puchmayr, who said the city called in assistance from Vancouver, Coquitlam, Richmond and Delta.

The Pier Park is a 600-metre boardwalk along a stretch of reclaimed waterfront between the Fraser River and Front Street. It was built in 2009 at a cost of about $24 million, according to Puchmayr.

“(It was) just literally spreading and then taking over the top part, which is landscaped with a lawn, volleyball court and basketball courts,” he told Global News. “It’s quite an amazing structure… It was quite an amazing structure.”

The well-known WOW Westminster sculpture created by Brazillian artist José Resende, which consists of four shipping containers in the shape of a “W”, appeared to have been caught up in the fire.

“It represents New Westminster and the workers that are here in this part of the country,” former New Westminster mayor Wayne Wright told Global News.

Koula Papakyriakopoulos owns the Taverna Greka restaurant on nearby Columbia Street, and said the fire didn’t appear serious at first.

“We saw the fire trucks here, but didn’t see a fire for a while, and then all of a sudden the W was in flames, it was quite terrifying,” she said.

The loss of the park will have a significant impact to businesses and residents of the area, she added.

“The city has done a wonderful job restoring it, making it look wonderful, people go down there they play volleyball, kids go out and play in the park,” she said.

“People from the park will come up to the restaurant and have dinner, so it’s sad that part of the park is lost.”

Front Street was closed to traffic while crews battled the fire, as was SkyTrain service between Columbia and Scott Road stations.

Due to a large fire at Westminster Pier Park, Front Street is closed from East Columbia to Stewardson Way. There is no access to the Front Street parkade. Please avoid the area. #NewWest pic.twitter.com/UjQPuzvMxY

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Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/7332833/massive-fire-engulfs-new-westminsters-pier-park/

New West Pier

Actu monde – CA – Massive fire likely ‘completely destroyed’ section of New Westminster’s Pier Park: mayor