Industrial fire in Taber considered non-suspicious

By Geoff Smith (@smithco on Twitter)
February 15, 2017 - 12:47pm Updated: February 15, 2017 - 2:55pm
Taber fire chief Steve Munshaw at the scene of the fire Wednesday, Feb. 15
Taber fire chief Steve Munshaw at the scene of the fire Wednesday, Feb. 15 Photo credit to Lethbridge News Now
Photo credit to Lethbridge News Now

TABER - A fire that destroyed a large industrial building is considered non-suspicious, Taber's fire chief said, as crew members in protective gear continued to clean up potentially hazardous materials from the site.

"Through witness statements, and what we get from initial evidence, we've confirmed that this is not an arson-based fire," Steve Munshaw said Wednesday, Feb. 15, five days after an intense blaze broke out at the Flexible Solutions International building on 52 Ave. in the town's industrial area.

Munshaw said the cleanup of anhydrous ammonia and sulphuric acid was expected to be completed Wednesday, but couldn't say how long a full cleanup would take.

"This will be an ongoing job, because it was such a large facility and we have some environmental aspects to make sure we have covered," Munshaw told reporters. "We keep the community and the residents within that community safe. And that's going to take some time to get that confirmation."

In addition to FSI, two other tenants rented space in the building, Munshaw said, and a portion of it was vacant. A night watchman had an apartment in the building, he added.

The Taber fire chief pointed to melted pieces of steel as evidence of just how hot the fire burned. He said it required crews surrounding the site, with a mind to ensuring their safety "first and foremost." A total of 50 firefighters responded, coming from as far away as the MDs of Grassy Lake and Vauxhall, and six fire engines were at the scene along with other support vehicles.

One bit of good luck, he said, was that the wind held off and did not cause the fire to spread in a significant way.

Munshaw said a total estimate of the loss, and a cause and origin of the fire, were not yet known. He said those determinations would be provided to the property owners and insurers, but would likely not be released publicly.

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