Flames lit up the early morning sky Sunday when a fire swept through a plastics recycling company on Riverside Drive.
“The fire was reported last night just before midnight,” said Al Robichaud, a fire inspector and investigator with Red Deer Emergency Services, at the scene.
“When fire crews arrived on the scene there were flames coming out of the ceiling here in the corner at the front of the building.”
Thick smoke poured off the Nexcycle Plastics Inc. (NPI) building at 4746 Riverside Drive and spread throughout the area. It smelled strongly of burnt plastic and Riverside Drive was quickly blocked off to traffic. Bystanders were kept back by police because of the toxic fumes.
“The smoke spread for a long ways,” said Robichaud. There was no one in the building or other nearby businesses at the time and no evacuation was necessary.
A damage estimated had not been determined, but Robichaud said it could be in the millions. Robichaud said about two dozen firefighters were on scene at any one time.
Both Bronto aerial trucks with 30-metre and 42-metre extending ladders were called out along with three pumpers and other vehicles.
“Those Brontos work good,” said Robichaud. “They were able to get the firefighters up on the roof, open some holes and do some ventilation.”
It took about three hours to bring the fire under control and most of the crews left around 8 a.m. One crew remained throughout Sunday morning to keep an eye on the factory as company workers busied themselves with cleanup.
“Because of the nature of the product and being as its compacted and collapsed we’ll stay on site to check for hot spots,” he said.
Riverside Drive remained closed off until about 10 a.m. A thick carpet of plastic pellets, some of them melted, lined the roadway.
Robichaud said the pellets were carried out of the burning building by the river created as firefighters poured water on the flames.
The City of Red Deer’s environmental services department was called out to the scene and blocked off nearby sewers and drains to prevent pellets and other debris from getting into the river. There were no pollution problems reported.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. “We’ve gone in and done a preliminary look, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten,” said Robichaud. A full investigation will take place today or Tuesday.
Workers at the plant were busy scooping up millions of tiny plastic pellets Sunday morning and loading them into large bins. Smoke damage could be clearly soon along the roof line and above four bay doors. A company official at the scene said he had no comment at that time.
Neighbouring businesses were not affected. It appeared to be business as usual at the Red Deer Co-op Home and Garden Centre next door.
NPI is a Brampton, Ont.-based plastic recycling company supplying polyolefins and specialty polymers to the plastics industry.