Pipelines secured as wildfires rage in western Canada



CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Major pipeline companies in western Canada created fire breaks, installed sprinklers and took other measures to protect operations as raging wildfires spread to more than 38,000 hectares (93,000 acres) in British Columbia.

Enbridge Inc has taken a natural gas compressor station offline but it said on Wednesday that there had been no significant reduction in volumes shipped.

The fires have disrupted timber and mining operations, damaged a regional electric utility and forced more than 14,000 people from their homes in the interior of the province.

On Friday, British Columbia declared its first state of emergency since 2003.

Enbridge did not specify which pipeline system the station was on, saying only that it was in the affected area, a region ranging from 150 km (95 miles) to 350 km northeast of Vancouver where more than 200 fires were burning.

Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd, a unit of Kinder Morgan Inc, removed vegetation along its Trans Mountain pipeline, created a fire break and added sprinklers to keep the area wet, Chief Operating Officer Hugh Harden said in a statement.

The company said the fires were about 16 km away from a pump station in Blackpool, British Columbia.

EnGold Mines Ltd has suspended all exploration in the region and Imperial Metals Corp said it had significantly reduced operations at one of its mines.

West Fraser Timber Co and privately held Tolko, among the largest Canadian producers of forestry products, and Norbord Inc, the world’s largest maker of oriented strand board, a plywood-like material used in house building, have suspended operations.

Disruptions are expected to tighten the supply of wood products and raise prices.

Some of the fires were close to residential communities, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that 10 people had been arrested for breaking into buildings in areas that had been evacuated.

In 2016, forest fires in Fort McMurray in neighboring Alberta province displaced 88,000 people and burned 590,000 hectares.

Reporting by Ethan Lou; Editing by Toni Reinhold


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