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Bonduelle Fire Out, Long Rebuilding Process Ahead

Friday July 18th, 2014, 3:27am


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This article is 3660 days old.
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Firefighters douse hot spots Friday afternoon (Photos by Owen Wolter)

Last updated Friday July 18th, 6:58pm.

Fire crews continue to douse hot sports at the site of this morning’s massive fire at the Bonduelle Foods plant in Tecumseh.

The fire broke out around 2am and sent heavy black smoke across the town. The smoke could be seen as far as west Windsor and Detroit.

The fire broke out in the warehouse section of the building.

Bonduelle said in a statement the cause of the fire may be electrical.

Windsor Fire sent four units as well as a chief and other support personal to help Tecumseh Fire. Lakeshore Fire also sent a truck to the scene to help.

Those who live around the fire were asked to keep their windows closed and to stay away from the fire scene.

Several roads in the area were closed.

OPP began enforcing a 1km evacuation area around 8:30am.

Several onlookers had described an ammonia-like smell in the area.

Tecumseh officials announced an emergency evacuation at 9am for around 1300 residents in the area and declared a state of emergency. Officials used reverse 911 to call residents and let them know they need to leave.  The evacuation order was lifted around noon and the state of emergency was lifted around 4pm.

Officials say it is to early to know how the fire started and that the Ontario Fire Marshal has been called to investigate.

There are no reports of injuries.

Tecumseh Fire Chief Doug Petri told reporters that firefighters had a very close call earlier with two tanks of ammonia at the fire scene. He said flames came within 100 feet of 3000 to 5000 pounds of ammonia.

Petri said firefighters were able to back pressure the tanks and keep flames away.

Petri said a small ammonia leak took place on an ammonia line inside the building, and that’s what prompted the evacuation.

Essex-Windsor EMS chief Bruce Krauter said ammonia inhalation can cause respiratory arrest. He says anyone who notices symptoms such as a heavy smell in their respiratory system or a burning nose should seek medical attention.

Petri said the warehouse was completely destroyed but firewalls likely saved other parts of the building including production areas.

Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said Bonduelle has been a great corporate citizen and called the fire a tragedy for the town.

McNamara said the plant has been the flagship for Green Giant for 80 years.

The blaze damaged more than 12 million pounds worth of products.

Bonduelle pledged to rebuild but said since property damage was considerable, it’s expected that it will be very difficult for the plant to operate for the current production season.










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