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Winnipeggers living near industrial parks concerned about fires, air quality

Firefighters at the scene of the Friendly Family Farms fire on Nov. 5, 2018. Marek Tkach/Global News

After two recent fires at industrial properties in Winnipeg, some residents are worried it might be time to move.

On Monday afternoon, a massive blaze broke out inside Friendly Family Farms oil processing plant in St. Boniface.

READ MORE: Black smoke spews over St. Boniface as major fire erupts at processing plant

The fire caused plumes of black, billowing smoke to waft across Winnipeg and started to raise concerns about air quality.

“We have monitoring equipment down wind from Manitoba Environment and they’re still registering zero parts per million for anything that would be the concern to the public,” WFPS Deputy Chief Russ Drohomereski said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation but the building is a total loss.

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Due to the significant damage to the structure, investigators will be relying on both witness accounts and the forensic information available.

But there are constant risk assessments fire crews have to take into account during any call.

VIDEO: Drone footage of the fire at Friendly Family Farms

Click to play video: 'Fire drone gives birds-eye view of Dawson Road fire fight' Fire drone gives birds-eye view of Dawson Road fire fight
Fire drone gives birds-eye view of Dawson Road fire fight – Nov 6, 2018

“The plume of smoke was progressing pretty well vertically at the time of the fire, then dispersing north,” Fire Chief John Lane said Tuesday. “We quickly checked the dispersal area to see if there was any evidence of smell or haze or odor in those areas and there wasn’t anything immediately detectable.”

WATCH: WFPS answers concerns from residents around industrial park

Click to play video: 'WFPS answers concerns from residents around industrial park' WFPS answers concerns from residents around industrial park
WFPS answers concerns from residents around industrial park – Nov 6, 2018

But with more residential neighbourhoods popping up closer and closer to industrial parks, the concern from Winnipeggers grows with each fire.

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Over the last three decades, Winnipeg has changed significantly. The city has grown by nearly 88,000 people and to make room, neighbourhoods have popped up in places once strictly used for agriculture or industrial purposes.

“The air smells bad and it’s not good,” Elfred Besana said. “It’s not healthy. I was worried.”

Elfred Besana says he is considering moving out of the neighbourhood. (Global News). Global News

Besana lives in St. Boniface with his wife and three children. He said after moving to the largely industrial area four years ago, he now thinks it might be time to move.

“It’s dusty,” he said. “The windows are always closed because sometimes there’s air coming from different things. It stinks.”

It was a sentiment that has become all too familiar in the past few weeks.

On Oct. 22 a school and several Transcona businesses were evacuated after an industrial fire at Pounder Emulsions sent plumes of thick, black smoke and a toxic stench into the air.

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READ MORE: Firefighters dealing with ‘toxic exposure’ after asphalt plant fire, says union boss

Thick, toxic smoke spewed from the fire and firefighters were exposed to a number of carcinogens, said Alex Forrest, President of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.

“I talked to a number of the members that were there and they said it was one of the worst fires that they had fought,” Forrest told 680CJOB at the time. “What we’re dealing with now today is the incredible toxic exposure that these firefighters had,” he added.

-With files from Amber McGuckin

Submitted images and video show the toxic smoke rising over the RM of Springfield as fire crews work to control the situation.

Click to play video: 'Images from Monday’s asphalt fire in east Winnipeg' Images from Monday’s asphalt fire in east Winnipeg
Images from Monday’s asphalt fire in east Winnipeg – Oct 22, 2018

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