Friday February 12, 2016

Orcas Exchange Buildings Destroyed by Fire

Picture provided by Orcas Island Fire and Rescue

The buildings which housed the Orcas Exchange at the Orcas Island Solid Waste Facility were destroyed by a fire Saturday, February 9. San Juan County Fire Marshal Paul Turner said has termed the cause of the blaze an accident.

The fire was spotted by Orcas Island Fire and Rescue Captain Bob Nutt at 4:48 p.m. and the department responded with 10 units and 45 firefighters. It took more than 5 hours to bring the fire under control. There were no injuries.

The buildings and their contents were a total loss and, according to San Juan County Public Works Department, 13 trees at the site were damaged.

The Orcas Exchange is located on property owned by San Juan County, which currently operates the solid waste transfer station on that site. The County has tentatively planned to turn over operation of the station to the Exchange at the end of April, if final contract terms and arrangements are worked out.

San Juan County Public Works Director Frank Mulcahy “Our first concern at the scene at this point is safety. We’re asking the public to please stay clear of the burn area until it can be made safe.”

Mulcahy said his next priority is to insure uninterrupted solid waste service. He indicated that the fire damage does not affect access to the transfer station’s tipping floor and, after OPALCO workers secured electrical services to the facility, normal solid waste operations resumed on Sunday.

“We are also grateful to Orcas Island Fire and Rescue for the quick and competent response,” Mulcahy said. “We would like to commend the professionals and volunteers for their response and service.  We would like to also commend SJC PW staff that was able to cooperate with the response efforts on site.”
Officials of the Exchange have indicated they may bring in a private contractor to do the initial cleanup.

Representatives of the Exchange are expected to attend Tuesday’s County Council Meeting, which will be held at the Fire Station in Eastsound, to give the Council an update on the situation.