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Plastic Plant Fire ,Ontario/Canada

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 in flames.

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 said.

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 been reduced.

 

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 Association.

"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

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