Processor catches fire; Crew response keeps flames from spreading to dry forest

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
Northwest of Prince George, BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Stones Bay Holdings Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

A processor operator began his shift at 4:00 am. Approximately 35 minutes later, the machine lost hydraulic functions.

The operator thought he perhaps he had bumped the lock-out lever so he locked out the machine and reactivated the hydraulics, with no change. He pushed the hydraulic lockout and got out to investigate. As the operator approached the passenger side of the machine, he saw flames coming from the hydraulic pump compartment.

He grabbed the extinguisher from the cab and went to the hydraulic compartment and shot the extinguisher at the fire. When the extinguisher was empty (the fire stalled momentarily) he called a co-worker while going to get a second extinguisher from the rad compartment.

Help was on its way so the processor operator shot some of the extinguisher into the hydraulic pump compartment. He then went up on top of the engine compartment and shot down. Burning liquid was beginning to fall from the back of the machine (believed to be hydraulic oil as the rear fuel cell in counterweight was empty). The fire began to take off and was no longer safe to continue to attack.

By this time, more co-workers were on scene with extinguishers and some had retrieved the onsite 1,000 gallon water tank. Butt ‘n Top loader also came to move debris and nearby log decks. A fire guard was built around the machine to prevent the fire from spreading. Two 1,000 gallon water tanks were used to fight this fire, as well as handheld extinguishers. The quick actions of the crew contained the fire and prevented any flames from spreading to the nearby (and very dry) surrounding forest.

Description of Root Cause: It is believed that an electrical or hydraulic malfunction started the fire. The radiators and engine areas were rinsed and blown out the day before the fire, indicating that the machine was clean. The fire originated in the engine compartment/hydraulic pump corner of the machine and moved through to the cab.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

• Procedures were followed and results were minimal collateral damage to the surrounding area.

• This incident will be discussed at future safety committee and tailgate meetings with emphasis on keeping equipment clean of debris and the importance of proper fire equipment and training.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

Darren McQueen, Stones Bay Holdings Ltd. (250) 996-8912

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