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Air quality being monitored as crews battle fire at recycling facility in Strathcona County

Fire burns overnight at recycling facility in east Edmonton
Firefighters and emergency crews continue to battle a blaze at a recycling facility in east Edmonton Wednesday, after crews were called in late Tuesday night. Chris Chacon has the latest from the Genalta Recycling facility.

Editor’s note: This story originally stated the recycling facility was in east Edmonton, however, it is actually located in Strathcona County. The story has been updated to reflect the correct location. We regret the error.

Firefighters and emergency crews remained on scene of a blaze at a recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday morning, after crews were called in late Tuesday night.

Just after 10 p.m., firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue.

Large flames and massive plumes of smoke could be seen coming from the facility.

Devin Capcara, deputy chief of operations with Strathcona County Emergency Services, said Tuesday night it’s believed the fire started in a pile of recyclable material.

“There were subsequent releases or explosions within that material as it contains anything that has metal in it — vehicles, cylinders, press gas cylinders, those types of things,” Capcara said.

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On Tuesday night, Capcara said the plume of smoke was rising into the atmosphere and dissipating above the nearby homes. However, things changed overnight and Capcara said the fire was producing a “pretty significant” plume of smoke Wednesday morning that was banking down into the nearby residential areas.

Officials with the City of Edmonton and Alberta Environment were called in to monitor the air quality, Capcara said. A spokesperson with the City of Edmonton said its HAZMAT crew assisted with air quality testing Wednesday morning.

Residents in the affected area, mainly the southwest portion of Sherwood Park, were asked to avoid the area or stay inside Wednesday morning, Capcara said.

“If you are smelling the smoke, either shelter in place in your house… or just move out of the area. Don’t be outside working if you’re smelling or breathing in this plume,” he said.

“The wind is moving it, it’s keeping it rather narrow. But it is kind of blowing through Sherwood Park at this time so we’re just advising residents to stay in their homes if they’re within the plume or to move to another area.”

Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Global News

He noted that there was an odour from the smoke in the affected area.

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Just after 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Capcara said more equipment was brought in to help fight the fire and he expected the blaze to be brought under control within a couple of hours.

The county put out an alert Wednesday afternoon, saying people in the area may wish to avoid prolonged or strenuous activities outside as a precaution for the next several hours.

On Tuesday night, crews took a defensive attack. Capcara said there was no risk to buildings or critical infrastructure in the area.

“We’ve adopted a defensive operation. The defensive operation means we are attacking the fire from the periphery and maintaining a safe distance,” he said.

He said the fire was “labour intensive.”

“The nice thing with this particular facility is they have the equipment on scene to move the material around, spread it out and make it a lot easier for us to douse it with water and extinguish. But there’s a considerable quantity of material that’s on fire,” he said Tuesday night.

“Defensive fire operations usually take a long time. They are very methodical. We make sure that things are done safely. There’s not a lot of property to save here, it’s just a matter of putting the fire out.”

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No injuries were reported.

Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue.
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue. Global News
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue.
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue. Global News
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue.
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue. Global News
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue.
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue. Global News
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue.
Just after 10 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, 2020, firefighters from Strathcona County and Edmonton were called to the Genalta Recycling facility, in the area of 34 Street and 93 Avenue. Global News
Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Global News
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Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Global News
Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020.
Fire crews battle a blaze at the Genalta Recycling facility in Strathcona County Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Global News

Global News has reached out to Alberta Environment for more information on the air quality.