More than 50 firefighters battle huge warehouse fire in Port Colborne

More than 50 firefighters battle huge warehouse fire in Port Colborne
CBC News
Link to article: More than 50 firefighters battle huge warehouse fire in Port Colborne

Port Colborne fire crews were called before 8 a.m. to the warehouse on Barber Drive, said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bendia.

Dozens of firefighters from across the Niagara region continue to battle a huge fire at a patio furniture warehouse in Port Colborne.

By Tuesday afternoon the fire at Vinyl Works Canada was considered under control, but firefighters expected to be on the scene overnight and into Wednesday.

At its height, more than 50 firefighters from across the Niagara region were fighting the fire and crews had to pump water out of the nearby Welland Canal to throw on the flames.

Residents in the vicinity of the massive plume of smoke coming from the fire were asked to stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed. That request was still in place Tuesday afternoon.

Port Colborne fire crews were called around 7:40 a.m. to the warehouse on Barber Drive, said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bendia.

When they arrived, "flames were going up the wall, coming out of the roof," Bendia said.

The building is about 60 metres by 23 metres wide. Within minutes of crews arriving a fire at the south end of the building quickly progressed and collapsed part of the building, Bendia said.

Air quality testing


Port Colborne city officials said the Ministry of Environment tested two locations and found air quality was not a concern. They planned to test one more location about a kilometre from the fire.

That means that children can be released from schools and picked up as usual, the city said on Twitter.

But residents should still stay indoors with windows and doors closed.

Fire crews from around the region


Bendia said it was the biggest fire he'd seen in three decades of firefighting in terms of how many different agencies were involved.

"We've got just about everybody in the Niagara region providing tankers and manpower," Bendia said.

"As you can see, a lot of the smoke has subsided," Bendia said during a 2 p.m. press conference. "We are definitely under control."

Seven employees were in the building at the time and all were able to get out safely.

Despite the progress on the fire, Bendia said it will be a long fight. The building has collapsed and crews will need to use heavy equipment to comb through and extinguish any flames underneath.

"I imagine we are going to be here awhile," he said. He expected there would still be fire personnel at the site into Wednesday afternoon.

Bendia said there was no city water service to fight the fire, so crews had to rely on water from tanker trucks until a hole could be drilled in the ice in the canal to draw water from.

Bendia said that barriers have been put up to keep runoff from water used to fight the fire from getting into the Welland Canal.

"There's no jeopardy to the water at this time," he said.

The Office of the Fire Marshal is investigating, Bendia said. He said workers have given statements but he hadn't had a chance to review them yet. He did not know a cause of the fire.

Port Colborne is on Lake Erie, southeast of Hamilton.

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