Fire at Edmonton waste facility contained; air quality advisory remains

Click to play video: 'Air quality advisory issued for Edmonton because of waste facility fire'
Air quality advisory issued for Edmonton because of waste facility fire
WATCH ABOVE: Parts of Edmonton were enveloped in smoke Tuesday evening as fire crews battle a blaze at a city waste facility. As Shallima Maharaj reports, the fire has prompted Alberta Health Services to issue a precautionary air quality advisory – Aug 31, 2016

The fire at Edmonton’s Waste Management Centre – which started Tuesday morning – has been contained, city officials said Wednesday morning.

“We’re still working with the fire department to completely put the fire out,” Chris Ward, a utility services manager with the city said at 11:15 a.m. “The last pieces are still smouldering and we’re spreading it around and applying water.”

While some operations have been affected, the waste facility remains open.

“We are receiving all loads that come to the centre and we are processing those appropriately,” Ward said.

A fire official said crews were first called to the fire in the northeast corner of the city (at 250 Aurum Road N.E.) at around 11:45 a.m. Crews fought the blaze all day and all night.

“It was a substantial pile of wood that caught fire,” Ward explained. “It did take a lot of effort during the course of the day yesterday and all night last night in terms of ensuring the fire was completely contained.”

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According to Fire Capt. Greg Holubowich – who also serves as president of the Edmonton Firefighters Union – the fire started in a wood pile that was 60 square metres wide and 18 metres deep.

He had concerns about what’s in the wood and the possible risks the materials pose to firefighters.

However, Ward said the wood that caught fire had not been treated nor painted.

According to fire officials, additional crews and resources were called in to help fight the fire around 7:30 p.m.

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Clouds of smoke could be seen hanging over various parts of north Edmonton as the fire continued to burn and shortly after 9:30 p.m. No injuries were reported and fire officials said the building at the waste facility did not catch fire itself.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) issued a precautionary air quality advisory for the Edmonton zone Tuesday evening as a result of the fire.

In the evening, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services said crews were continuing to battle the fire as thick plumes of smoke began to envelop parts of northeast Edmonton.

In a release issued just after 9:30 p.m., AHS said air quality across the Edmonton zone was expected to be “variable” and advised Edmontonians “to be aware of air conditions and take precautions against potential health concerns that can be associated with smoky air conditions.”

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Ward expects Alberta Health Services to update its precautionary air quality advisory once the fire is completely out.

Watch below: On the same day a fire at a waste facility prompted an air advisory to be issued for Edmonton, smoke was also drifting into Alberta from wildfires burning in the U.S. Margeaux Morin has more.

Click to play video: 'Smoke from U.S. wildfires drifts into Alberta'
Smoke from U.S. wildfires drifts into Alberta

AHS said people with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions may notice their symptoms worsening. If people do have difficulties, they are advised to call Health Link Alberta toll-free at 811 in order to speak to a registered nurse.

AHS said anyone who can taste or smell smoke in the air should monitor their symptoms, stay indoors and close windows, doors and air circulation vents and try to avoid any outdoor physical activity.

The air quality advisory was “in effect until further notice,” according to AHS.

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The cause of the fire is not known, but Ward said there will be an investigation.

“We will determine what caused this fire and what practices we need to change in order to prevent this type of fire in the future.”

-With files from The Canadian Press and CHED 630

Nathan Gross/ Global News

*EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published on Aug. 30 and was updated Aug. 31 with word the fire had been contained.

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