Crews to remain on scene for several days after 6-alarm industrial fire in Etobicoke

A massive fire broke out at a chemical plant in Etobicoke, sending flames shooting into the night sky. Shauna Hunt with the concerns over hazardous materials and why officials say it could have been worse.

An investigation is underway after fire crews battled a six-alarm blaze at an industrial building in Etobicoke for most of the day on Friday.

Toronto Fire Services were called to Brenntag Canada at 35 Vulcan St. near Martin Grove Road and Belfield Road around 1:15 a.m. following explosions at the building.

When they arrived, they found several tractor-trailers on fire at the back of the building. Initially a two-alarm blaze, the fire escalated to a six-alarm within an hour of firefighters arriving on the scene.

“There was significant fire when we got here, but it escalated very quickly,” said division commander Dave Denysek.

“It was particularly troublesome. We had a lot of petroleum-based products that were burning, which is the reason that we had such deep, black smoke.”

Over 100 firefighters battled the blaze that spread to adjacent buildings, however, officials were quick to contain the fire and keep it away from more hazardous chemicals that were stored within the facility.

“What was burning was motor oil,” explained Denysek. “The company was here pretty quickly and told us what was in the building. There are different parts of the building where there are some solvents which would have been far more problematic.”

Nearby businesses evacuated on Friday

Given the nature of the chemicals stored at the site, concern immediately shifted to potential health and environmental threats.

Businesses in the area were evacuated, and residents were encouraged to keep windows closed and shelter in place. Operations at nearby Pearson International Airport were not affected by the dark plumes of smoke.

“Brenntag has been in the chemical distribution business for over 70 years and is fully committed to the safety of our neighbours and our employees,” the company said in a statement.

The fire was eventually brought under control, and fire services say they will likely remain on the scene for the next several days dealing with spot fires.

No one was in the building at the time of the blaze, and no injuries have been reported.

The Office of the Fire Marshal has been called in to investigate the origin and cause of the blaze, while Toronto Water and the Ministry of the Environment are conducting tests to determine if any toxins may have run off into the sewers and into the water system.

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