FERNIE - Three people are dead after a possible ammonia leak an arena in Fernie, B.C., that also triggered an evacuation of homes and businesses in the area.
The City of Fernie said as of Tuesday evening, emergency crews couldn't safely enter the Fernie Memorial Arena where three fatalities had been confirmed.
WorkSafeBC said based on preliminary information, three workers were exposed to a gas leak that was possibly ammonia shortly before noon.
The city's fire department had contacted WorkSafeBC about the incident and RCMP are now leading the investigation of the site.
Fernie fire chief Ted Ruiter said the situation was "somewhat under control."
"Anytime you're dealing with fatalities it's always tough," he said of the event's impact on his crews. "We're a small city and everybody knows each other. It's very hard to deal with, for sure."
The city said the victims' next of kin have been notified and their identities are not being released at this time.
The city said in a news release it is working with CIMCO Refrigeration and is trying to get obtain additional specialized resources to deal with the hazardous situation.
Ruiter said B.C.'s Ministry of Environment is also sending staff to assist with monitoring and to determine what the next steps will be.
Homes and businesses in the area, including a retirement home, have been evacuated.
"We're still concerned about some ammonia leaking into the environment," he said.
Officials have not said if other people were inside the facility at the time of the gas leak.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety says ammonia is a colourless gas that is very toxic if inhaled and can cause death.
Ammonia can cause severe irritation of the nose and throat and life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
Symptoms of ammonia poisoning may include coughing, shortness of breath, difficult breathing and tightness in the chest. The centre also says symptoms may develop hours after exposure and are made worse by physical effort.
Ammonia is used a fertilizer, to make plastics, fibers and other chemicals, as a refrigerant and other applications.
Elvis wows Lethbridge Skating Club
LETHBRIDGE – The lines for selfies and pictures with Elvis Stojko were long, at Nicholas Sheran...
READ MORE +
Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years before parole
RED DEER, Alta. — An Alberta judge is expected to hear arguments today that two men who murdered...
READ MORE +
Lethbridge police determine sudden death in river valley is non criminal
LETHBRIDGE - Police completed their investigation at the base of the High Level Bridge Sunday...
READ MORE +
Join the Discussion
We are happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules: Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards. See full commenting rules.