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'One big ball of heat and flames': Fire devastates P.E.I. bioenergy company

Firefighters arrived on scene Saturday morning to find the building at Atlantic Bioheat engulfed in flames.  (Desmond Arsenault - image credit)
Firefighters arrived on scene Saturday morning to find the building at Atlantic Bioheat engulfed in flames. (Desmond Arsenault - image credit)

A metal building and three large logging trucks parked inside were reduced to rubble Saturday after a fire at Wellington, P.E.I., bioenergy company.

The Wellington Fire Department responded to a call at Atlantic Bioheat at 8 a.m.

Desmond Arsenault, a firefighter and communications officer with the department, said firefighters quickly realized they were in for a challenge.

"It was evident upon arrival that there would be little chance … of saving anything inside.... It was just one big ball of heat and flames."

The logging trucks had just been filled with diesel in preparation for the work day Monday. One was loaded with wood chips to deliver to customers who use it in their furnaces, Arsenault said.

"It just made for a really hot environment with all types of combustibles inside to burn and generate all kinds of heat and toxic smoke, as well."

Desmond Arsenault
Desmond Arsenault

Fire departments from Miscouche Tyne Valley and Summerside were called to assist with water supply. Maritime Electric was also on site to deal with a downed power line.

When the flames were extinguished, a local contractor arrived with a backhoe to move the metal around and find hot spots.

"There was nothing left," Arsenault said.

"The intense heat just crumbled the metal trucks and the walls just down to, you'd think it was just little kids toys, it was just crumbled up."

It's always tough to see somebody else's property go down, especially a good friend of ours that is watching his business just go down in ruins right in front of his eyes. — Desmond Arsenault

Nobody was injured, Arsenault said. The cause is under investigation.

Some of the firefighters know the owner of Atlantic Bioheat.

"It's always tough to see somebody else's property go down, especially a good friend of ours that is watching his business just go down in ruins right in front of his eyes," Arsenault said.

Arsenault thanked the fire department that assisted, as well as members of the community who came out in the freezing rain to supply food and coffee.

"It was a pretty nasty day. We're all wet and cold and full of smoke so we all appreciate a treat of coffee and some snacks."