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No, that massive smoke cloud you saw in Burnaby wasn’t exactly a fire

The massive smoke cloud rising from North Burnaby wasn't a fire like you'd think — it was a refinery flare.

It looked like a massive smoke cloud, and social media was aflame with concern about a possible fire in North Burnaby in the evening of April 2.

It wasn't the Eye of Sauron, the lava glow of Mount Doom, the warning beacons of Gondor or really anything to do with Lord of the Rings, as those on social media would joke.

The reality? It was an "elevated flare" from Parkland Refinery off Penzance Drive on the Burrard Inlet. 

"Following the shutdown of the refinery for turnaround, there was an elevated flare when we restarted the facility," Tara Overholt, senior corporate communications specialist, told the NOW by email.

A flare "combusts small amounts of residual gases, preventing their release into the atmosphere," according to a document on the Parkland website

The website states scheduled maintenance of the facility, which includes cleaning, inspecting and servicing equipment, began Feb. 1 and is estimated to finish in "early spring."

The Burnaby Fire Department confirmed to the NOW they did not receive any calls about the flare last night, though in previous years when the Parkland flare has gone off, the department has been "inundated" with calls.

In 2021, assistant fire Chief Dave Younger told the NOW the large controlled burns at the refinery are "very random."

The flare on April 2 could be seen from around Metro Vancouver, including residents on the North Shore and in Vancouver.

— with files from Cornelia Naylor