Langley condo fire spews insulation and other debris over wide area

Chunks of charred building materials found blocks away from site of Monday fire

Charred material found on the property of a Black Press Media employee at 210th Street and 72nd Avenue, carried from the massive condo fire at 208th Street and 80th Avenue overnight April 19, 2021. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Charred material found on the property of a Black Press Media employee at 210th Street and 72nd Avenue, carried from the massive condo fire at 208th Street and 80th Avenue overnight April 19, 2021. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

The impact of Monday night’s condo fire was felt far beyond the community of Willoughby.

Firefighters were dispatched to the area of 208th Street and 80th Avenue around 9:30 p.m. on Monday, where a condo complex under construction had gone up in flames.

Tuesday morning residents in neighbouring communities woke to find debris outside their homes.

“There are reports of ash as far away as Pitt Meadows,” said Andy Hewitson, assistant chief with the Township of Langley fire department.

READ MORE: Willoughby Fire: The aftermath of the inferno in Langley

One resident who lives about one mile away from the fire scene said she woke to find a variety of material in her front yard.

“They were all sorts of different sizes,” said Vivian Gillard. “Insulation, paint from a wall – it was everywhere in our neighbourhood. On the roads, hanging in the tree – looked like a piece of paint hanging from a tree.”

Gillard said she was surprised to see how far the large pieces of material had travelled. The fire was at 208th Street and 80th Avenue. She’s near 210th Street and 72nd Avenue.

So how did the debris travel the distance?

Hewitson says its a result of a phenomenon called thermal plume, a massive amount of heat generated fire.

“As you see with your camp fire the heat carries the smoke and embers upwards until they cool off and loose velocity and either dissipate or fall to the ground,” he explained.

“With fires of this magnitude, much larger particles are moving at a higher velocity and will carry much further. The size of ash and unburned materials is proportionate to the amount of energy released by the fire, and the distance these embers travel is also impacted by prevailing winds.”

READ MORE: Evacuees describe seeing ‘Armageddon’ as embers rained down on Langley homes

The size and intensity of the fire caused the debris to scatter far.

“If you think of the embers like hot air balloons that are launched skywards by the force of the heat plume, then are carried by the winds until they cool off, it will give you an idea of how much energy is released by these incidents,” Hewitson explained.

“For those of us old enough to remember when Mount St. Helen’s erupted, there was ash in the Lower Mainland.”

It was thermal plume that carried those materials to Gillard’s yard and neighbourhood.

“A couple of them when I touched them, they would just fall apart in my hands,” she said. “They were crispy you could say.”

Gillard said to she collected the material and disposed of it.

But Hewitson wants to remind residents to be safe if they discover any material from a fire.

READ MORE: Developer promises burned Langley condos will be rebuilt

“Pick it up with something to avoid touching it with your bare hands,” he said. “Make sure it is not still smouldering, and then dispose of it.”

Crews worked through the night to extinguish the blaze, and remained on scene much of Tuesday dousing hot spots in the rubble.

“There will be a lot of smoke for some time while crews put out hot spots,” Hewitson said.

Gillard said she didn’t recall smelling smoke in her neighbourhood on Tuesday morning, but says it was hazy.


Have a story tip? Email: joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

fireLangleyLangley Township

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aldergrove Community Secondary. (Aldergrove Star files)
Noel Booth, Douglas Park, RE Mountain, and Aldergrove Secondary see positive COVID tests

As of Monday, May 10, 18 schools are currently on the Fraser Health exposure list

Email your cooking questions to Chef Dez at dez@chefdez.com.
ON COOKING: Chef Dez does parsley pesto

Pesto traditionally has fresh basil but it can also be made with another fresh herb

Langley’s Madison Sweeney a 5’8” forward who began her career playing for Walnut Grove Secondary, has signed with the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) Cascades women’s soccer team. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley’s Madison Sweeney signs with UFV Cascades soccer team

UFV ‘checks all the boxes’ for former Walnut Grove player

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks drew a large crowd to the Abbotsford Centre in 2019. Canucks management hopes the crowds return for the planned AHL team this fall, and early returns are positive. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Canucks: ‘Incredible’ early interest for Abbotsford AHL tickets

Team has had a strong response to both e-mail information and priority ticket lists

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read