A six-hour battle Sunday morning to extinguish a burning carpet factory in southern Quebec province ended prematurely when officials decided the risk of runoff polluting nearby waterways was too great.
“Sadly, the building was found to be unrecoverable,” the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu city website states. “However, it was still possible to control the impact of contamination of watercourses caused by massive watering and to limit the discharge of wastewater into the river.”
Formerly a Pirelli tire factory, the building has been used in recent years for recycling fabrics and storing flammable materials such as large rolls of carpet. A large part of that building collapsed during the fire.
At 5:43 a.m. local firefighters were dispatched to the scene. Soon firefighters from the neighboring cities such as Chambly, Saint-Philippe, Saint-Constant and La Prairie were also summoned to the scene.
They arrived to find the fire widespread with rising smoke visible from kilometers away, the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu fire department website states.
More than a dozen nearby families were quickly evacuated from their home, the city website states.
“Despite the context of COVID-19, the evacuees were instructed to temporarily shelter with neighbors,” the website states.
Firefighters used a aerial images provided by a drone to track the spread of the flames and attempt to divert it from hazardous materials.
The Ministry of the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change ordered a mobile air analysis laboratory to the scene to monitor air quality throughout the fire.