The Steinbach, Kleefeld, and New Bothwell Fire Departments were called to Eastman Recycling Services in Steinbach around 10 a.m. Thursday after the conveyor sorting system caught fire.

Steinbach Fire Chief Kel Toews says when the fire department arrived thick black smoke was billowing out of an open overhead door.

Steinbach Fire Department Attends Eastman Recycling Services"We sent the crews inside and determined that it was the sorting conveyor machinery inside and it is a tough piece of machinery to put out. There is rubber, a conveyor, recyclables in there, they find nooks and crannies to hide in so there is a lot of smoldering and even once we got the bulk of the fire out there was a lot of overhauls involved."

Toews says with a fire of this magnitude in such a large building, the Kleefeld and New Bothwell Fire Departments were called as a precaution. He says at this time it is tough to determine the extent of the damage.

"It is hard to tell how much of the equipment is a loss, it will have to be determined probably by an engineer later on. In regards to the building, the building is showing heavy charring on some of the rafters, but again, it will be up to an engineer to decide whether the strength and integrity have been compromised."

Toews says the Office of the Fire Commissioner has been called to investigate the cause of the fire and a small number of Steinbach Fire Fighters will stay at Eastman Recycling Services to make sure there are no flare-ups until he arrives.

Ellie-Jo Watts, a local bus driver, says a few noon hour bus routes were affected by the fire because emergency service vehicles were blocking the entrance to the Hanover School Division bus garage.

"I was here getting my bus worked on and when I had to leave for my kindergarten run, I couldn't. Another driver was picking up her bus here, she couldn't get in so our boss had to pick her up and take her to another bus and that is what she used. I had a spare fill my run, and she went and did hers on another driver's bus."

Watts says none of the pick up times were affected and all of the children got home on time.

Toews says Manitoba Hydro also attended the fire to shut off power and gas as a precaution.