A "significant" fire at a flower farm in St. Catharines, Ont., has been contained, but residents in a large area northwest of the massive greenhouse operation are being asked to stay inside, an official says.
No one was injured in the blaze at Pioneer Flower Farms that began late on Friday night, although flames spread to and destroyed about four or five residential buildings that housed migrant workers, according to Jeff McCormick, acting fire chief for St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Management Services.
Smoke, however, remained a concern. Officials from Ontario's Ministry of the environment were on the scene Saturday, and a spokesperson said they have been collecting air samples for analysis.
The fire was in a structure that is a series of greenhouses and outbuildings and about 650,000 to 700,000 square feet in total.
"It's a significant-sized fire," McCormick said. "Probably, this would be the most significant fire that I have had of my 33-year career."
John Van Geest, a longtime neighbour and friend, said the farm owners had been celebrating another business's 40th anniversary Friday night when they saw black smoke — and ran from a celebration to a disaster.
"It's devastating to see them lose what they've worked the last 48 years to build up," said Van Geest, who co-owns a greenhouse across the road. The farm offered jobs for many people in the community, as well as several migrant workers, he said.