Explosions so rapid they sounded like gun shots were heard as a fire tore through a hazardous goods recycling business in Nisku late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.
Video posted to Twitter showed what appeared to be a very large and intense fire in the industrial area south of Edmonton.
The fire broke out at the Recycle Systems Company, which recycles aerosols and other high-pressure, compressed gas products. The company’s Terra Impact Management division is also located at the Nisku site, where deals with solvents and other waste that does not have a recycling option.
There’s a “hazardous/recyclable waste storage area” sign at the entrance of the facility.
Brian Curry works down the road and told Global News that the fire broke out at around 10 p.m. in the area of 10 Street and 15 Avenue late Wednesday, as he was working in a nearby shop.
At first he figured someone was shooting off fireworks nearby, which he thought was weird given that the area is adjacent to the Edmonton International Airport.
“I came around the front to see what all the noise was, I saw in the distance the glow and hearing all the popping and everything.”
Curry said he recognized the sound as propane tanks exploding.
“I knew it was cylinders right away. They make a specific sound,” he said, adding he got in his truck and drove closer to the scene. “You could see the cylinders blowing up and flying through the air, and I figured this might not be the best place to hanging around and so I decided to get out of there.”
“I didn’t know where they were landing, and I didn’t want to be anywhere near where they were landing.”
Curry said by time he left the immediate area, police and firefighters were on scene.
Another worker was close to the fire when it broke out.
“I was just closing up to go home and heard some popping, banging,” Troy Armstrong said, adding he saw flames shooting out of the yard of the business across the street.
“There was loud, huge bangs and I was pretty close. It was by my building, so it wasn’t really that close — but it felt too close and so I got out of there pretty quick.”
In addition to the explosions, thick, dark, smelly smoke could be seen at the scene.
A man who was working by a hotel along Airport Road, located a few kilometres south of the scene, said he could hear the explosions and see the fire light up the sky.
“Certainly kept some of our guests up,” Adam Yates tweeted.
Leduc County Fire Services crews determined the fire involved what it said was a large area of stored pressurized containers ready for recycling and a variety of chemicals and used oil products.
“Our crews, including more than 40 firefighters from the Nisku and Calmar fire districts, EIA and City of Leduc fire department, worked incredibly hard to get the fire under control,” Leduc County Deputy Fire Chief Tylor Bennet said.
No one was injured in the fire.
Crews were still on scene Thursday morning, dealing with minor flares and will remain on scene for the remainder of the day. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Alberta Environment was also on scene Thursday, because of chemical runoff in the water used to fight the fire.
Leduc County said until the investigation is complete, 9 Street, between 15 Avenue and 16 Avenue in Nisku, will remain closed.