Early morning landfill blaze on Christian Island ‘started by somebody,’ Beausoleil fire chief says

More than 20 firefighters worked to extinguish a blaze at a landfill site within Beausoleil First Nation on May 24.

The fire, which was first spotted at around 6:30 a.m., was likely burning for hours on the Christian Island community before it was noticed, Beausoleil Fire and Emergency Services Fire Chief Allan Manitowabi told Simcoe.com.

It was so tough to handle that the fire service called in a mutual aid request from nearby Tiny Township, which sent two tankers over to the large Georgian Bay island by ferry.

“We know it was started by somebody, but we don’t know who or by what or anything; it’s an issue that needs to be dealt with,” Manitowabi said. “We don’t know how long it was going because of the location; I can only estimate based on the size. Somebody was down at the dock and could see the smoke in the air. That’s the only reason we found out. A lot of what was in (the fire) was from the winter. The biggest issue is getting a lot of the stuff off the island. When the boat breaks down, recycling doesn’t get picked up and it ends up piling up. It’s unfortunate.”

No one was injured. Crews had wrapped up on scene by about 1 p.m.

“We were very fortunate,” Manitowabi said. “The breeze was blowing in a direction away from the village. The fill site is not far from the village. We would have had issues if it was blowing down into the village area for our seniors and children. It’s one thing to put out a structural fire, it’s a whole different thing at a landfill site. They’re difficult.”

The fire service has only requested backup a few times in its history. But this is the second fire at the landfill in two years.

Manitowabi said many members of the community came to the assistance of the firefighters; several people dropped off refreshments and an excavator was brought in to help battle the blaze.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the Anishinabek Police Service at 1-800-438-5638.


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