April 25, 2005
COBOURG, ONTARIO Massive flames and dark billowing smoke
shrouded a plastics factory in Cobourg for much of April
25, forcing the evacuation of several homes and businesses
in the area.
The huge fire prompted Cobourg's mayor, Peter Delanty,
to declare a state of emergency in the town of 17,000, which
sits on Lake Ontario, an hour east of Toronto.
The fire began about 2:30 p.m. at the Horizon Plastics
Canada plant, just south of Highway 401, after a transformer
outside the factory is believed to have blown up and caught
fire, police said.
The blaze spread quickly, engulfing a propane tanker next
to the factory. By 5 p.m., the plant was fully engulfed
A vast plume of black smoke could be seen from Highway
401, almost two kilometres away.
Employees at the factory were evacuated immediately and
no injuries were reported, though officials were concerned
about chemical fumes.
The company is one of Cobourg's largest employers with
about 200 employees.
The fire was out by about 9 p.m. and Environment Canada
conducted air quality tests last night to make sure the
air was safe enough for residents to return to their homes,
a spokesperson with the Cobourg fire department said. The
evacuation order was lifted shortly after 9:30 p.m., police
Two schools in the vicinity of the fire and several homes
just north and east of the factory had been evacuated.
By 7:30 p.m., the fire was still raging but the smoke had
Homes east of the factory were evacuated by emergency personnel
as the smoke continued to blow last night, police said.
According to its website, the Horizon Plastics factory
specializes in residential, commercial and environmental
plastic molds, manufacturing equipment such as children's
slides, hospital carts and plastic soil fertilizers.
Due to the fire, NDP Leader Jack Layton was forced to cancel
a planned event with the Northumberland Quinte West Riding
"It's a relief to know that no workers were injured
in the blaze and that local firefighters have received such
strong support from their colleagues in surrounding communities,"
Layton said in a press release