Three people were hurt — one critically — in an explosion and fire at a renewable energy plant near Entwistle, Alta., on Monday.
“I felt the explosion,” said Kyle Wickstrom, who was one kilometre away. “It was nuts.”
It happened at Pinnacle Renewable Energy, which is about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton.
“There was an industrial explosion and a fire,” Parkland County Fire Chief Brian Cornforth said.
“We responded with 40 crew, both from Yellowhead County and Parkland County — there was also a private fire contractor.
“We did transport one patient via STARS to the hospital as well as two patients went by ground ambulance.”
Emergency crews were called at around 2:30 p.m. There were about 20 fire, EMS and incident support unit vehicles at the plant at 5 p.m.
“We had fire on the industrial area and several injured people,” Cornforth said. “We treated the folks that were injured as well as began our fire-fighting operations.”
A spokesperson for STARS said a man, about 28 years old, was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in critical condition.
Alberta Health Services said EMS transported two patients to hospital in Edmonton in serious condition.
Cornforth couldn’t provide details on the victims’ ages or genders.
“Parkland County crews are evaluating the situation and the first priority is life safety,” said Rebecca Lewicki, a senior communications officer for Parkland County.
By 5 p.m., fire crews were focused on containing the scene, which presented some challenges during the initial response.
“It’s an industrial setting and there’s a lot of structural steel that was damaged. We’re worried about debris,” Cornforth said. “The cold is very hard on the firefighters. We’re making sure they make rotational changes on their shifts.”
The CFO for Pinnacle told Global News she couldn’t say how many people were hurt but said nobody’s injuries were life-threatening. She said the company is working with Occupational Health and Safety to determine what caused the incident.
Alberta Labour confirmed OHS had been notified and a team was heading to the scene.
No further details were provided.
On its website, Pinnacle is described as “one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of industrial wood pellets, which are used by large-scale thermal power generators as a greener alternative to produce reliable baseload renewable power.”
The company currently operates eight wood pellet production facilities in Western Canada.
WATCH BELOW: Emergency crews and STARS air ambulance were called to a renewable energy plant near Entwistle Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. Courtesy: Kyle Wickstrom