Firefighters with St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) spent close to ten hours at the scene of a late-night fire in Mount Pearl.
The call came from a worker at the feed mill, owned by Country Ribbon Incorporated, on Topsail Road. SJRFD Platoon Chief Derek Hunt said the employee was alerted to the fire by a smell likened to burnt popcorn in the air. The worker then detected heat on the outside of the silo, prompting a call to 9-1-1.
When fire crews arrived on the scene, shortly before 9:30 p.m., and opened an access hatch at the side of the silo there was considerable fire inside. Firefighters immediately started pouring water inside to douse the flames. Twenty firefighters, from several stations, attended the scene.
Hunt also said that due to the extent of the burning material and poor access to the fire they opted to use an aerial ladder to spray water through a vent at the top of the silo in an attempt to drown the blaze from above.
Hunt said the blaze could have been much more dangerous. The fire was in a silo that contained a corn product, of similar consistency to popcorn kernels. Had the fire started in a silo containing more finely-ground material they would have been looking at the possibility of an explosion.
Police were forced to close a portion of Topsail Road, just east of the Kenmount Road overpass, as crews needed a fire hydrant across the street. Firefighters were on the scene until 7:00 a.m. the following morning. With limited access points through which to spray water, and the volume of material involved, firefighters were unable to completely extinguish the smouldering material.
The silo suffered some damage to to the heat of the corn burning inside. Officials with Country Ribbon Inc. are at the mill this morning, assessing the situation.