Fire stretching blocks destroys part of pier park in New Westminster

A massive fire on Sunday engulfed a portion of Westminster Pier Park in New Westminster, B.C., likely destroying the oldest parts of the pier and leaving the city’s chief tourist attraction and community jewel in ruin.

Flames tore through the eastern end of the waterfront boardwalk, near the foot of the SkyBridge across the Fraser River. The fire, said to have stretched several blocks at its peak, ignited log pilings beneath the promenade. 

Fire officials say the blaze has worked into the creosote pilings and could burn for days.

The damage was “devastating,” the city’s mayor said late Sunday.

“The fire is being contained to the old part of the pier, but it is likely the old pier of the park will be completely destroyed,” Jonathan Cote wrote on Twitter.

The park, which was opened in 2012 after an extensive remodelling, is packed with grassy areas and gardens, trees, picnic tables, courts, public art and playgrounds. It is a cherished community hub and top tourist spot all year-round, with the 600-metre waterfront boardwalk the main attraction. 

Firefighters from neighbouring cities sent crews to help the New Westminster Fire Department contain the fire late Sunday. Thick clouds of dark, acrid smoke poured out of the fire, billowing into a glowing sky already dangerously hazy with smoke from wildfires in the United States. 

The orange glow of the blaze was visible from across the Fraser River in Surrey, B.C.

The entirety of the park and a portion of Front Street remain closed in the area as firefighters work.

SkyTrain affected

There was no SkyTrain service between Columbia and Scott Road stations because of the fire late Sunday.

Extra bus service was set up to transport commuters between Columbia and Scott Road stations.

Millennium Line and Canada Line service is unaffected, TransLink said in a release.

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