One seriously injured after St. Catharines explosion, fire at industrial facility


ST. CATHARINES, Ont. – A series of explosions and a large fire at a hazardous waste facility in St. Catharines, Ont., left one person with serious injuries and triggered the evacuation of nearby homes on Thursday as crews worked to put out the large blaze.

St. Catharines Fire Services said crews responded to reports of multiple blasts at Ssonix Products 2010 Inc. just after 6:30 a.m. and found that a fire had spread to a neighbouring industrial building as well.

Chief Dave Upper said a man working at the hazardous waste facility, who was the only person there at the time, was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

“We know the patient is conscious but has received significant burns,” Upper said. “We’re still working defensively on the fire.”

A neighbourhood north of the facility was evacuated due to a “black plume” of smoke blowing toward the area, Upper said, with residents sent to a community aquatics centre.

Others in the area were advised to stay inside, keep doors and windows shut and turn off furnaces to avoid letting outside air in.

Fire crews heard multiple explosions at the facility for about 45 minutes after they arrived, Upper said. The owner of the facility was on scene and had told fire crews about various chemicals that were in the building, he said.

“We are concerned that there are some cleaning agents in the one bay and we’re trying to determine the level of the fire, how far it’s extended and our exposure to that area,” he said.

Crews are also trying to ensure run-off water from their efforts doesn’t collect in nearby Lake Ontario, Upper said, and a hazardous materials company on scene has brought in marine-containment booms.

“We’re working to stem the water from flowing into the lake, and then whatever’s into the lake right now we’re trying to capture,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment, the Office of the Fire Marshal, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority and a hazmat remediation team will all be responding to the fire, Upper said.