Update Sunday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.
By Kevin O’Brien, Orcas Fire and Rescue Chief/CEO
On Saturday, February 9, at 4:48 p.m., After a long day of training recruit firefighters, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue Captain Bob Nutt was driving by the Orcas Transfer Station in an OIFR water tender (tanker truck) and noticed smoke and flames coming from the Exchange complex. Captain Nutt called for additional help and began firefighting operations. He noted significant fire involvement in the heart of the Exchange complex with flames extending to the trees in the area.
Forty-five OIFR members and ten units responded to the incident that lasted over five hours. Water for the fire was transported by OIFR tenders from a pond located approximately one half mile away from the fire. There were no injuries to civilians or responders. Preliminary evidence is leading investigators to believe the cause of the fire to be an accidental electrical situation; however, the final determination is pending.
Special thanks to the OIFR volunteer responders and Auxiliary members for their hard work and dedication in helping our community.
Orcas Island Fire and Rescue recommends islanders practice fire safety in your homes: change smoke detector batteries when you change your clocks, perform emergency exit drills, have a working fire extinguisher and make sure your chimney is clean.
By Margie Doyle
The Orcas Island Exchange buildings appear to be a total loss, as flames broke out about a half hour after the recycling center closed today at 4 p.m., Feb. 9, 2013.
At about 4:30 p.m. scanners reported that cannisters were blowing up and passers-by said that, at 4:45, the buildings were on fire.
Blake Birchall said that he passed the site at 5 p.m. and the site was completely engulfed by flames, “even the trees.” He said the Orcas Fire Department was there, and more fire trucks were already on the way, but the fire was too far gone to save any of the buildings.
Another witness reports seeing firefighters being treated on the scene for smoke inhalation, further praising Orcas Fire & Rescue, as “every fire truck in the world was there.”
The Exchange is part of the Orcas Transfer Station site, owned by San Juan County.