Photo: Shane MacKichan/Canadian Press.
Photo: Shane MacKichan/Canadian Press.
Photo: Shane MacKichan/Canadian Press.

Port Coquitlam: A spectacular explosion and fire, fuelled by ethanol, has been allowed to burn out in Port Coquitlam.

Residents were forced from the neighbourhood, a local mall was evacuated and the nearby Lougheed Highway was closed for several hours Monday night when a tanker truck collided with a rail engine, Fire Chief Nick Delmonico said Tuesday.

The crash between the double tanker and the rail engine happened inside the Canadian Pacific Rail yard at about 7 p.m. Monday, he said.

The truck’s tank was split open and a spark from somewhere set off a blast and fire, Delmonico added.

“These fires are extremely dangerous. Obviously because initially, most times, you don’t know what the product is until you get there,” he said.

“Sometimes it takes some detective work to find out what it exactly is, so you’re always concerned about both the explosive level of something like that and also toxicity for first responders.”

The chief said the railway presents one of their biggest potentials for hazard in the city and they train for it accordingly.

Delmonico said they decided to allow the fire to consume the highly flammable liquid.

“We kind of let it burn until the fuel level was quite low then we did what’s called a flare. We bumped the car to try to get it to spill out a little bit, which it did, and opened it up, and then we were able to put it out at that point,” he explained.

No one was injured.

Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin said police are investigating the incident.

The Canadian Press