After nearly three days at the scene of a major fire at 1900 Seventh Street Louth, St. Catharines Fire and Emergency Services completed its firefighting operations on Monday.
The fire, which started at about 11 p.m. on Friday night, was completely extinguished at about 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon. A single pumper remained on scene last night until 8 p.m. as a precaution. Firefighters had spent days battling the stubborn blaze, calling in heavy equipment to ensure they had access to all of the areas that had been smouldering underneath the structures that collapsed. At its peak, there were more than 100 firefighters, and 27 vehicles on scene working to get the fire under control.
“We had some strenuous days working to ensure the fire was fully extinguished,” said Acting Fire Chief Jeff McCormick. “We are thankful for the dedication and effort from our St. Catharines firefighters, as well as the other fire departments that have assisted us over the past few days.”
The fire started in one of the greenhouses on the east side of the complex with first responding crews reporting the building fully involved with significant flames visible. The intensity of the fire caused the building to collapse within 15 minutes of crews being on scene and blocked the access roadway around the building, hampering the efforts of fire crews to get access to the fire. There are no municipal fire hydrants in the area, so the mutual aid was initiated requesting water tankers from area fire departments. In addition to the greenhouses, fire destroyed a number of migrant workers' residential buildings, and spread across the grass igniting a significant bush fire.
The Ontario Fire Marshal’s investigative team was on scene throughout the weekend in anticipation of initiating their fire investigation once the fire was completely extinguished. However, they determined an investigation would not be conducted because of the extensive damage to the 700,000-square-foot structure, specifically in the initial burn building.
“Due to numerous factors including the size and scope of the fire, the length of time the fire burned and the extensive overhaul operations that were necessary to ensure final extinguishment, there is no reasonable expectation that they would be able to determine the cause and origin,” said McCormick.
The cause of the fire is undetermined. No major injuries were reported for firefighters or civilians.
In addition to the area departments that assisted in the firefighting efforts, McCormick said the fire service is also appreciative of the support from City of St. Catharines staff, support agencies both locally and provincially, local businesses and residents who provided assistance over the last several days. Fire officials also extend their appreciation to residents for their patience while the shelter in place was instituted Saturday and much of Sunday.
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