Airport Firefighters Watch As Hangar Burns

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Airport firefighters in Prince George, British Columbia, say there was nothing they could do but watch as fire took hold in a 70-year-old wood frame hangar as they waited for city firefighters to arrive to battle the blaze. By the time the city crews traveled the 10 miles from their hall (some witnesses said it took about 25 minutes), there wasn't much hope of saving the historic former military hangar, which served as the local headquarters for Northern Thunderbird Air, a scheduled, charter and medevac airline. Eight aircraft, much of the airline's fleet, were safely moved outside before the fire consumed the building. Airport Fire Chief Dan Moulder told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. that his crew followed long-established protocol. "Our concern is the airport itself. We look after the aviation side, the city looks after the structures," Moulder said. Although the aircraft were saved, the fire has disrupted operations by the airline and the airport itself.

In a note on its Web site, Northern Thunderbird apologized for inconvenience caused by disruption of service. Northern Thunderbird General Manager Bill Hesse said the airline should resume full service Monday but it could have been much different without the effort by staff to save the airplanes. "In pretty short order, they got all of our aircraft, some of our parts and engines on the floor, and all their tool boxes moved out," Hesse told CTV News. "I just want to thank the people that stayed calm and really rescued some really important assets for us," Hesse said. "A couple of those not making it would have changed the whole outcome." Meanwhile, the fire also caused minor delays for aircraft operating out of the airport as firefighters continued to douse hotspots on Sunday. No cause has been determined but an electrical fault is suspected.