Work ground to a halt May 12 at Sittler Grinding when a fire destroyed an excavator in the company’s yard north of Elmira.
The driver of the piece of heavy equipment escaped uninjured, but the unit was a write-off, said Woolwich deputy fire chief Dale Martin.
“The machine was pretty much destroyed. The engine was done, and the cab was all burned out,” he said, not putting a value on the damage. A brand new excavator can run up to $100,000, depending on the size.
The company, which specializes in demolition and environmental waste recycling, had the excavator out in the yard, sitting on a pile of wood chips. Given all the wood surrounding the unit, Martin said stopping the spread of the fire was paramount.
“We had to soak that down too,” he said of the wood pile. “The fire started in the engine compartment and we used firefighting foam. You can use water too, but with foam, it just suppresses in more. We also laid that down on the wood pile so it wouldn’t catch fire.”
Crews from Elmira and Floradale were called to the scene, and about 25 firefighters were on hand to fight the engine fire. In a twist, there was a small incident on one of the tankers on the job.
“It was just a small electrical fire. Some wires had shorted out and they were smoking. [The tanker] was back in service later that afternoon,” said Martin.