A small fire that broke out in an indoor trash enclosure at the Dahlia building in downtown Canby early Monday morning was quickly contained, with Canby Fire personnel crediting the first-rate sprinkler system for quickly suppressing a blaze that could have otherwise done serious damage.
“The building has a trash chute that runs from the fourth floor to the ground level,” Canby Fire Division Chief Matt English told The Canby Current this week. “There was some material thrown in that Dumpster that auto-ignited and, due to that, temperatures got up to a couple of hundred degrees in the room.”
Fortunately, the automatic sprinkler system kicked on and quickly doused the fire, while smoke alarms throughout the building alerted residents to evacuate, English said.
“It was suppressed, and when crews arrived, there was water running out of the double doors,” the division chief reported. “It was pretty well put out and at that point, it was a mop-up situation.”
The fire broke out at approximately 1 in the morning — at a time when the average temperature in Canby was barely above freezing.
“Due to the temperature, our primary goal was to get everything put back together and get everybody back inside,” English said.
Crews quickly inspected the building to ensure that fire and smoke had not spread through the trash chute to other parts of the building.
The Dahlia is also equipped with a fail-safe that automatically locks airtight doors on the chute at each floor when smoke is detected — and this system also worked flawlessly in this case, Canby Fire reported.
In retrospect, English saw it as a real cautionary tale of the importance of constructing new buildings (like the Dahlia, which was built just a few years ago) with sprinkler systems and other fire safety technologies, as well as adding them to older structures wherever possible.
“You know, that one sprinkler put out a fire that could have caused an extensive amount of damage, including loss of life,” he said. “You know, if it was an older building that didn’t have sprinklers in it, people potentially wouldn’t have had the ability to get out, due to smoke.”