Major fire threatens industrial park near Montreal

What started as a forest fire outside of the town of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, just west of Montreal, has started to encroach on a big industrial park, a spokesperson for the town says.

The spokesperson told CTV late on Thursday afternoon that many firefighters are on scene and it will be hours before more is known about the extent of the damage.

Nobody from the town could be reached in the evening for further comment, and provincial police, who were brought in to help evacuate the area, said they couldn't provide an update on the state of the fire.

Locals posted photos of water bombers flying overhead as firefighters battled the flames. The Perron industrial park, which includes a port onto the river, includes many different properties with different industrial materials.


At least 44 companies are listed on its website, including a seller of chemical products, an asphalt producer, a steel supplier and many other manufacturers of various products.

It also has a tank farm, Valleytank, that offers "storage and handling facilities for a wide range of bulk liquids primarily on behalf of chemical companies," according to the company's website.

There's also a zinc plant within a few kilometres.

Local news outlet NeoMedia reported that the fire started near the JPB recycling company on Thursday afternoon.

Another man posted a video showing an excavation company surrounded by tall flames at the park.

While the town spokesperson called it a forest fire, local media referred to it as a brush fire. Videos showed a burning field nearby.

Now, "it's just rolling black smoke," said Wendy Barrett-Stuart, who lives in the area and was a firefighter for 12 years. A huge plume of smoke is visible for kilometres.

Within an hour of when she first saw the fire, it had doubled in size, Barrett-Stuart said.

While the area has long been industrial, with homes a good distance away, there has been so much residential building in the area in recent years that some of the newest homes may be close enough to be at risk, she said.




Barrett-Stuart said she's worried not just about the immediate dangers but the health risks for locals, especially after seeing videos of what appeared to be piles of asphalt on fire.

"If it is asphalt burning and other things, there's a lot of toxic smoke exposure," she said.



 

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