A vinyl factory in Port Colborne, Vinyl Works, was englufed in flames along the canal Tuesday morning shortly after 7 a.m., sending a steady stream of thick black smoke into the sky for hours.
The smoke could be seen for kilometres and attracted attention from Buffalo news agencies.
By 9:30 a.m., the entire west side structure had collapsed. By the end of the day, the entire building had been destroyed by the blaze.
Emergency crews from around the Niagara region responded to the scene and extinguished the flames by the evening, though crews stayed through the night monitoring hot spots, which were still smoking Wednesday morning, according to a press release from the town of Port Colborne.
Residents in the area are asked to keep their windows shut and stay inside to avoid breathing toxins, presumably from burning vinyl material, while the Ministry of Environment tests the toxicity levels in the air.
No tested areas have been designated to have unsafe breathing air so far.
The factory, located at 2174 Barber Rd., had seven employees inside when the fire started. All were evacuated safetly. There are no reported injuries at this time.
Enbridge Gas Distributuon was called to the scene Tuesday morning to turn off a gas line that went into the building.
An unknown substance was reported to be seeping from the west side of the building and pooling in a ditch before the canal early in the morning Tuesday, though the flow was stopped before it reached the canal.
A video of the fire can be found at, facebook.com/ZeusRATG10/videos/10159950216430634/.
The City of Port Colborne released multiple press conferences regarding the incident. Here is the first from Tuesday morning.
— With files from Joe Crawford.