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Old Posted Aug 25, 2009, 9:45 PM
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emge emge is offline
Needs more coffee...
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Hamilton
Posts: 837
Hm, well, that`s not good:

Testing for fire toxics delayed
MOE’s Hamilton equipment out of action
August 25, 2009 Dana Brown
The Hamilton Spectator

ANCASTER – Analysis of the black smoke pouring from an Ancaster fire has been delayed because Hamilton testing equipment is out of action.

MOE officials are at the Ancaster Industrial Park taking samples of the cloud. But they were unable to test for toxics in the first hours of the blaze because they were waiting for equipment from Sarnia.

“Quite frankly, this is unconscionable” said Councillor Lloyd Ferguson.

“If there is a problem, we need to tell the public.”

Ferguson said he will be pressing the public health department to get its own air-monitoring equipment.

Firefighters battled a blaze at Archmill House Inc. starting shortly after 3 a.m. It is a woodworking operation.

At 11 a.m., they expected that it would be several hours before the fire, which is now out, was completely knocked down.

The collapsed roof and walls at the rear of the building made it difficult to extinguish the last fires with water.

Foam trucks from the airport helped battle the blaze.

“What the foam is doing is layering a blanket across it and smothering the fire,” Hamilton Fire spokesman John Verbeek said shortly after 10:30 this morning. “It appears that it is being effective.

“We don’t have as much of the smoke plume now as what we did half an hour ago even.”

About 60 Hamilton firefighters and 18 fire vehicles attended the three-alarm blaze. Archmill House is a specialty millwork manufacturing plant on Osprey Drive which makes cabinets and architectural mouldings for homes and businesses.
The fire forced the closure of many businesses in the Ancaster industrial park off Wilson Street at Tradewinds Drive after emergency crews closed access roads.

Heavy smoke drifting through the area forced the closure of all ramps from Hwy 403 to Hwy 6 South. The nearby portion of Hwy. 6 was also closed. The Hwy 6 bypass was closed from the 403 to Upper James.

Officials urged Ancaster and Hamilton Mountain residents to keep their windows closed as smoke billowed from the building.

Ontario Provincial Police Constable Graham Williamson said the highway ramps were closed about 7:30 a.m. “as a precaution.” Thankfully, there were no accidents caused by the smoke, which hampered visibility along those roads.

The blaze was discovered by police, who were sent to check on an alarm at the building at 3 a.m.

Verbeek said one of three large propane tanks at the rear of the 35,000-square-foot main building exploded at 6:15 a.m. after firefighters had moved back out of the building into defensive positions.

“When the crews got there, they found 20-foot flames where plywood is stored on open racks in the centre area,” he said.

“The fire began spreading rapidly across the roof and the district chief ordered evacuation as it was no longer safe there.”

Verbeek said the wood products, laminates and lumber stocks in the building burned fiercely, but flames had not reached flammable liquids used in manufacturing because they are stored in a separate room off the main building, protected by a heavy fire door.

Verbeek said firefighters had difficulty attacking the fire with aerial trucks because wasn’t safe to move the rigs between the blazing structure and businesses beside it.

The heavy rigs could not cross the rough ground and wet area behind Archmill. So, a four-by-four vehicle equipped with a water gun used to fight brush fires was brought in behind the plant from Cormorant Drive. A foam truck from Hamilton airport was called in to extinguish stubborn flames not responding to water.

Verbeek said there was smoke drifting over towards the Rymal Road and Fiddlers Green area so police officers were sent there to advise residents of the fire. There was no evacuation order for that area, though neighbours were told to close windows.

Businesses located on either side of the blazing plant were not damaged, but hydro was cut off in the neighbourhood.

Hamilton police were sent into the area to control bystanders who couldn’t resist slipping between the industrial buildings for a closer look.

Police and fire crews reported several explosions in the building just after they arrived. It is believed these were caused by aerosol materials used in the manufacturing process which detonated.

Archmill added a major extension to the plant several years ago.

No one was working in the building when the blaze was discovered.

By 5 a.m. the fire was burning fiercely with fire crews setting up fixed water cannons around the building. They also asked the city to boost water pressure to mains in the area surrounding the fire.
With files from John Burman
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