Firefighters battle large industrial fire in Port Colborne

PORT COLBORNE, ONT.—Dozens of firefighters battled a large industrial blaze in southwestern Ontario on Tuesday as authorities urged local residents to stay indoors to avoid the thick black smoke that lingered over the area.

The fire in Port Colborne, Ont., broke out at a facility where vinyl products are made and was reported around 7:40 a.m. by workers who had arrived to open up the building, the local fire department said.

The blaze progressed very quickly, said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bendia, in part because of a few small explosions.

Just 10 minutes after crews arrived, the building began to collapse and firefighters had to retreat, Bendia said. Hours later, the entire structure had come down and the fire was still burning, he said.

There were no reports of injuries, Bendia said, but firefighters had to be particularly careful battling the blaze in the cold as water used to flight the flames freezes quickly and could create slippery conditions.

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“I imagine we are going to be here a while,” Bendia said. “The better part of today and into the evening and tonight.”

He later added that firefighters could still be at the scene on Wednesday morning.

Images from the scene showed clouds of black smoke pouring out of the burning building, located along one side of the Welland Canal.

The City of Port Colborne said people in the vicinity of the smoke should stay inside and keep windows and doors closed.

The Ministry of the Environment was conducting air monitoring, the city said.


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