Four firefighters were injured in a fire and subsequent explosion today at a warehouse in Mississauga, Ont., where butane lighters, aerosol cans of insect spray and other goods are stored.
Firefighters were alerted to a fire at an industrial warehouse at 2797 Thamesgate Dr., in Malton, just north of Toronto Pearson International Airport, at about 4:40 a.m. by an automated alarm.
As the first firefighters on the scene attempted to enter the building, a large explosion caused a wall to collapse, briefly trapping them inside.
“They were right at the door, from the reports we’ve had from our personnel, when the building exploded. There was no advanced warning … it will obviously involve an extensive investigation to find out why that happened,” says Greg Laing, the City of Mississauga’s deputy fire chief.
Laing said emergency crews were unaware that the building contained explosive materials.
Three firefighters were sent to hospital. Two suffered broken bones, while the third, who was admitted in critical condition, has more serious injuries but is reportedly stable at a downtown Toronto hospital. Police have not offered any further details on the third firefighter’s injuries.
While unable to give personal information on the men, Mississauga fire chief John McDougall says all four are “seasoned” and experienced firefighters at the mid-career level, and that all had been conscious and talking in hospital.
A fourth firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
The fire has largely been extinguished, but black smoke continues to billow from the building. Police said the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Peel Regional Police Const. Thomas Ruttan said there are no current concerns about toxicity in the smoke coming from the building, but people in the area are advised to avoid breathing in smoke if possible.
Representatives from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment are on the scene to monitor public safety.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion offered her support to the fire crews in an email statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the firefighters and their families. We are grateful for all emergency services personnel who are on site,” said McCallion.
Following the explosion, all crews were ordered to leave the structure and battle the fire only from the exterior after a wall collapsed.
Airport Road between Derry Road East and Steeles Avenue East has been closed and police are telling drivers to avoid the area. Police said they expect the area to remain closed for at least several more hours.
Some GO transit services have been affected by the fire.
The Mississauga Fire Fighters Associated tweeted their thanks for the thoughts and prayers of others on Wednesday.
Firefighters from other cities tweeted their condolences to their colleagues in Mississauga: