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Niagara Falls
Monday, February 6, 2023
Update #7: Worker dies of severe burns suffered in chemical plant fire; investigators urge public to stay away from the scene
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
The blaze burns early in the morning. (Supplied photo)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
The blaze burns early in the morning. (Supplied photo)
St. Catharines firefighters battle a blaze at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd. in St. Catharines. (Richard Harley)
The blaze burns early in the morning. (Supplied photo)
The blaze burns early in the morning. (Supplied photo)

Update #7, Friday, 5 p.m.

A male employee badly burned in Thursday’s explosion and fire at a Port Weller chemical plant has died of his injuries.

Niagara Regional Police Insp. Rob LaPlante announced the news in a video statement released Friday afternoon.

He said investigations at the site near Read Road would continue to disrupt local traffic.

The name of the victim, a worker at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc. on Keefer Road, has not been released “as next of kin notification processes are ongoing,” LaPlante said.

Jeff Tebby, operations manager for the Office of the Fire Marshal, said in the video update, “We are beginning the process of remediating the site to make it is safe for our team to get onto the property to conduct the origin and cause investigation,” 

He estimated it will take seven to 10 days to conduct the investigation. 

St. Catharines Fire Chief Dave Upper asked that people stay away from the site while the investigation continues.

Updates will continue to be provided by social media, officials said. 

– Evan Loree, The Lake Report/NiagaraNow.com

 

Update #6, 6:08 p.m.

Niagara chemical plant fire under control; fire crews remain on scene; residents can return home; most roads reopened

“St. Catharines fire crews remain on scene at 20 Keefer Rd. The fire is now under control, and the crews continue to put out hot spots,” St. Catharines Fire Chief Dave Upper said in his recent update.

 

Update #5, 5:40 p.m.

Residents wakened by explosions and a ‘sky full of fire’: First-person accounts of the aftermath and evacuation

 

 

Update #4, 5:10 p.m.

Injured worker transferred to Sunnybrook burn unit for treatment

 

Somer Slobodian and Richard Harley

The Lake Report/NiagaraNow.com

Residents evacuated today after the explosion and fire at a chemical plant on Keefer Road can now return home, the City of St. Catharines announced on its website at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

The fire at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc. was brought under control just before 2 p.m., though crews were still dealing with hotspots.

Lakeshore Road is reopened and only Keefer Road from Northrup Crescent to Seaway Haulage remains closed.

The city urge residents to follow the St. Catharines Fire Services Twitter feed for more updates.

Update #3, 4:05 p.m.

The St. Catharines Fire Service says the fire is now under control but crews are continuing to deal with hotspots. The fire marshal is on-site to begin its investigation and Enbridge is there securing gas lines.

 

Update #2, 3:06 p.m.

Fire chief unsure when evacuated residents will be able to return home

 

Somer Slobodian and Richard Harley

The Lake Report/NiagaraNow.com

Firefighters from Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines are continuing to battle a chemical plant blaze that sent one person to the hospital with serious injuries Thursday morning.

As of early this afternoon, fire crews had the flames contained but not under control and were concerned about the blaze spreading to other toxic chemicals in the building.

“The one victim was transported to St. Catharines General Hospital but has now been moved to Sunnybrook,” St. Catharines Fire Chief Dave Upper said at a news conference at St. Catharines City Hall.

“And so we don’t know the status of the patient. We just know that they’ve been moved to the burn unit there,” he added.

The blaze was caused by an explosion about 6:35 a.m. near the Welland Canal at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., at 20 Keefer Rd., St. Catharines.

The facility treats both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes for off-site disposal.

It is located on the Niagara-on-the-Lake side of the Welland Canal, near Read Road.

Residents in the area and some several kilometres away felt their houses rock after the initial explosion.

For about an hour after arriving on the scene, fire crews encountered a “large number of aerosols that were exploding,” said Upper.

The first explosion came from a section of the facility with mostly “paint type chemicals,” said Upper.

“One of the challenges here is that we’re not just dealing with one chemical, we’ve got quite a few that we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to mitigate it,” he said.

There are two other sections of the building that have not been involved, but firefighters are keeping a close eye on them, he said.

One section has a lot of aerosols and the other has a chemical that’s called a parasitic.

“There is a bit of a concern because if it gets heated up, it is toxic and can explode,” said Upper.

The parasitic is not currently near the fire. There are five bays at the facility and  the fire is mainly in the middle of the building.

The parasitic chemicals are in one of the far bays.

As of early Thursday afternoon the fire was contained, but not under control, said Upper.

“We’re working with the Canada Spills Action Centre, we’re working with the Ministry of Environment (and) with the owner to try to determine what that would look like if we ended up losing control over this,” said Upper.

“We’ve got it contained. And so we’re we’re happy with where we are right now,” he added.

The fire also spread to an adjacent building, at 18 Keefer Rd.

The flames caused the neighbour’s roof to collapse and when first responders entered the building they found a lot of shelving and contents burning.

Staff can’t safely enter the collapsed part of the building, making it difficult to physically get to the materials.

“We have to stand back and set up high volume water streams to put water on that fire,” said Upper.

Residents north of the explosion were evacuated and sent to the Kiwanis Aquatics Centre on Carlton Street in St. Catharines. As of 1 p.m., there were 53 people at the centre.

St. Catharines Mayor Mat Siscoe urged people to stay out of the area.

“There’s a lot of people who I guess, for curiosity sake, whatever the case may be, have tried to get closer to the area to see what’s going on,” he told the news conference.

He also said people have been trying to fly drones over the facility to get videos and photos.

“Without mincing words, give your heads a shake. You’re not making things better, you’re not making things easier or you’re not being helpful,” he said.

The Ministry of the Environment is doing air quality tests in the area. Tests were done at Port Weller Public School and Assumption Catholic Elementary School and no problems were found.

Hazardous material companies are on scene with boats in the lake. They’ve deployed an absorbent sock to try to contain any runoff.

According to Upper, there’s also a truck on hand vacuuming “up any of the runoff that’s going into the water stream.”

The Town of Lincoln’s rehab unit is also there.

“It allows us just to get staff out of the elements and a place to sit down for a few minutes while we rotate crews through the scene,” said Upper.

In order for residents to return to their homes safely, Upper said the air quality has to be safe and the fire has to be out.

In the initial response St. Catharines Fire Services sent out four pumps and two aerial trucks and a rescue vehicle.

Once they realized the seriousness of the situation they had six pumps on scene, two aerials and a rescue. About 30 firefighters were there and roughly 50 police and EMS personnel.

“We’re looking to make a determination as to whether residents will be able to go back at 4:30 p.m.,” said Upper.

If not, they’ll have to find other accommodations for them. The city is working with Red Cross.

The Office of the Fire Marshal and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority also have been called in.

People living in the area said they heard loud booms early this morning that shook their houses. 

“I woke up to the explosions,” said Rob Munger, who lives nearby.

“I actually thought it was my radio because I sleep with rain sounds on. I was like, ‘This is really weird thunder.’ ”

A NOTL resident who lives on Read Road said they “felt the house shake.”

Cary Frank, who lives on the St. Catharines side of the canal, said, “That first boom was insane. I felt like I was in a dream. And then seeing the sky turn red.”

 

 

 

UPDATE #1, 11:45 a.m.:

NOTL and St. Catharines firefighters are on scene near Welland Canal

 

Richard Harley and Somer Slobodian

The Lake Report/NiagaraNow.com

One person has been injured and firefighters from Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Catharines are battling a blaze after an explosion tore through a chemical disposal business near the Welland Canal early this morning.

Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., at 20 Keefer Rd., St. Catharines treats both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes for off-site disposal.

It is located on the Niagara-on-the-Lake side of the Welland Canal, near Read Road.

The explosion happened at the hazardous material company at 6:35 a.m. Thursday.

Multiple units from St. Catharines Fire Service and Niagara Emergency Medical Services are on scene near Seaway Haulage Road at Keefer Road,” Niagara Regional Police spokesperson Const.​ Philip Gavin said in an email to The Lake Report. 

Upon arrival crews encountered multiple explosions inside the facility. They lasted about 45 minutes, St. Catharines Fire Chief Dave Upper said in a public statement.

Roads around the facility are closed and police are urging people to stay away.

“Unfortunately we’ve had one injury. A staff member received burns and was transported to St. Catharines General Hospital through EMS,” Upper said. 

The staff member was the only worker in the building. 

Residents in the area just north of the building have been evacuated and sent to the Kiwanis Aquatics Centre on Carleton Street in St. Catharines. 

All other people in the adjacent areas have been told to shelter in place and keep windows and doors closed. 

“Unfortunately, there’s one exposure that we’ve had a fire extended to the neighbouring building to the east,” said Upper. 

About 27 men and women were on scene working to put out both fires. 

“The owner is on scene now and we have a good description of what the chemicals are in the building,” said Upper.

“We are concerned that there are some cleaning agents in the one bay and we’re trying to determine the level of how far it’s extended,” he added. 

When asked if anything might be leaking into the nearby canal, Upper said “not specifically.”

However, it is a concern and they are “trying to mitigate the water going into the lake.”

A hazardous material company was on the scene and working to capturing any chemicals from going into the canal or Lake Ontario.

People living in the area said they heard loud booms this morning that shook their houses. 

“I woke up to the explosions,” said Rob Munger, who lives nearby.

“I actually thought it was my radio because I sleep with rain sounds on. I was like, ‘This is really weird thunder.’ ”

A NOTL resident who lives on Read Road said they “felt the house shake.”

Cary Frank, who lives on the St. Catharines side of the canal, said, “That first boom was insane. I felt like I was in a dream. And then seeing the sky turn red.”

Firefighters seemed to have the blaze contained by 8 a.m., but were keeping water on the surrounding buildings as flames were still rising into the air.

Upper expects they will be there all day and that people won’t be able to go back to their houses until dinner time. 

The fire department urged people to keep an eye on the St. Catharines Fire Services Twitter page for updates.

This story is in development. Check back for updates.

 

Earlier story, 9:43 a.m.:

Firefighters from St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake were on scene this morning, battling a blaze that tore through Ssonix Products 2010 Inc., located at 20 Keefer Rd, St. Catharines, on the Niagara-on-the-Lake side of the Welland Canal.

Details were not immediately available, but people living in the area said they heard loud booms at about 6:30 a.m.

“I woke up to the explosions,” said Rob Munger, who lives in the area.

“I actually thought it was my radio because I sleep with rain sounds on. I was like ‘this is really weird thunder.’ ”

A NOTL resident who lives on Read Road said they “felt the house shake.”

Cary Frank, who lives on the St. Catharines side of the canal, said “That first boom was insane. I felt like I was in a dream. And then seeing the sky turn red.”

Firefighters seemed to have the blaze contained by 8 a.m., but were keeping water on the surrounding buildings as flames were still rising into the air.

This story is in development. Check back for updates.

 

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