Toronto firefighters were battling to control a major blaze at an industrial site where chemicals are stored in the city’s west-end, as area residents were ordered to stay indoors with their windows shut amid concerns about hazardous smoke.
Firefighters are “making progress” in containing the blaze but it is “not yet under control,” a public information officer with the Toronto Fire Services, Captain Dan Viera, told the Canadian Press.
No injuries have been reported.
Toronto Fire said crews were called at 1:15 a.m. on Friday to respond to the scene at 35 Vulcan Street in Etobicoke, an industrial site operated by Brenntag, a German chemical distribution company.
When they arrived, they found several tractor trailers on fire at the back of the industrial building.
In an email, Brenntag said it is aware of the fire, is cooperating with investigators and “no Brenntag employees have been injured because of this incident.”
“Brenntag has been in the chemical distribution business for over 70 years and is fully committed to the safety of our neighbours and our employees,” it said.
Speaking earlier at the scene, Toronto Fire deputy chief Jim Jessop told reporters that more than 25 crews had been battling the fire and that businesses in the area had been shut.
Given the nature of the chemicals stored at the site, concern immediately shifted to potential health and environmental threats, authorities said.
“This is a factory or business that deals in motor oil and lubricants and transmission oil,” Jessop said. “We’re dealing with basically all kinds of types of oils, fluids, and solvents,” Jessop said.
He added that the incident was also being treated “as a hazardous materials incident addressing the water runoff and monitoring the air quality.”
He said no injuries have been reported among people in the area and first responders, but residents should shelter in place, keep their windows closed and call 911 if they have any medical or respiratory problems due to the fire smoke.
Jessop said Toronto Fire Services have notified the ministry of the environment about the incident that’s sending massive amount of smoke into the air.
He said the CN Rail lines that run through the impacted area had been shutdown.
Jessop said the fire is expected to cause major disruption to traffic in the impacted area throughout the day.
Dale Burke, who lives north of the fire, said he saw smoke billowing from the industrial site as he was getting ready for work Friday morning.
Although he couldn’t smell the smoke, he said he “hopes they get it under control quickly because we know people who have lungs issues and breathing issues,” he said.
Feature image: Smoke rises from a major out-of-control blaze at an industrial site in west-end Toronto on Friday, Aug.11, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Arlyn McAdorey