A large warehouse fire in Point Douglas spread smoke throughout large parts of north, east and downtown Winnipeg and evacuated nearby homes Tuesday.
Firefighters began attending to the blaze at a business at 2 Point Douglas Ave. around 11:20 Tuesday morning. Listings for that address say the business is a chemical company called Gateway Industrial.
A release from the city later in the day said the warehouse was vacant at the time of the fire. Wednesday morning, the fire was mostly out but the city said crews would stay on scene to smother hot spots.
Due to the size of the blaze, the city said a second alarm was called, bringing roughly 100 firefighters and 33 apparatus to the scene. Officials said firefighters took a defensive attack because the building’s structural integrity was compromised.
One firefighter was treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to hospital in stable condition. No other injuries have been reported.
The city says 10 homes near the fire were temporarily evacuated as a precaution and it’s not known when they will be able to return. The city’s emergency social services team was called to assist displaced residents in finding temporary accomodations.
Crews are working to protect nearby buildings from embers being carried by the wind.
A stationary railcar nearby carrying rail ties was ignited and crews were working Tuesday night to put that fire out.
People with breathing conditions are advised to stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed because of the ongoing smoke.
Higgins Avenue at Point Douglas Avenue was closed, and the road closures were later expanded to Annabella Street and Sutherland Avenue. The street re-opened overnight.
“They are putting in apparatuses and resources in place… because we can get (the fire) from up top, and hopefully we can get it like that and put it out… but there’s the potential that it could take longer than normal,” Assistant Chief of Fire Rescue Operations Jamie Vanderhorst said while crews worked Tuesday afternoon.
“The fire appears to be in the middle of the building so the roof has collapsed in on either side to make it unsafe for crews to make entry into the building, so what the crews are now doing is they’re working from the outside trying to put it out.”
A release from the city sent shortly before 5:20 p.m. said crews were expected to remain at the scene “for an extended period of time” bringing the fire under control and putting out hotspots.
Local road closures remained in effect at that time and Winnipeggers were advised to avoid the area. The cause of the fire remains under investigation and an estimate on damages was not immediately available.
–With files from Shane Gibson