From: Reuters
Published August 16, 2006 12:00 AM

Firefighters Back Off Ontario Industrial Blaze

TORONTO — A large fire at a recycling plant in southwestern Ontario Tuesday raised pollution concerns and caused some 400 people to evacuate, while an industrial fire north of Montreal forced about 1,500 residents and workers to leave that area.

Amherstburg, Ontario, Fire Chief Richard Murray told CBC Television that firefighters did not have enough foam and water to put out the blaze at the Libby Terminals plant.

Amherstburg is a town of 20,000 on the Detroit River, about 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Windsor.

Due to the size of the fire and the plastics burning at the plant, officials decided to let it burn "as hot as possible" to obtain a cleaner burn, rather than try to put it out, Windsor Fire Chief David Fields said.

Fields identified the materials burning as high-density polypropylene and high-density polyethylene, and said carbon, oxygen and "traces of formaldehyde" were being released into the air.

The plume of smoke was being blown over Lake Erie, Fields said.

"As long as the byproducts of combustion are not at ground level, no one's at risk," Fields told CBC. Testing by a hazardous-materials team downwind of the site had not identified any contamination at ground level, he added.

Amherstburg Police said in a press release that no one had been injured in the fire, but residents within a 2 km area were encouraged to evacuate. Police said residents could go to a nearby sports club and banquet hall that can accommodate up to 400 people.

Separately, a fire at a manufacturing plant in Boisbriand, Quebec, north of Montreal, forced about 1,500 residents and employees of nearby businesses to be evacuated, CBC reported.

The fire at the Polyval Coatings Inc. plant apparently started in a laboratory where chemicals were stored, but was said to be contained late Tuesday afternoon.

Source: Reuters

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