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Homes evacuated, 1 person seriously injured after explosion in St. Catharines, Ont.

One person is in hospital with significant burns and a number of homes and businesses have been evacuated following a fire that triggered a number of explosions at a business in St. Catharines.

The fire broke out at Ssonix Products, a hazardous materials company at 20 Keefer Road, shortly after 6:30 a.m.

Firefighters battle a large fire at a business in St. Catharines following an explosion Thursday, January 12, 2023.

One woman who lives nearby posted video of the fire to social media and said the initial explosion was so loud that she thought a tree had struck her home.

St. Catharines Fire Chief Dave Upper said crews responded to fire and found ongoing explosions.  

“Explosions were continuing in the facility for about a good 45 minutes while they were on scene,” Upper said.

Firefighters battle a large fire at a business in St. Catharines following an explosion Thursday, January 12, 2023.

He said a staff member at the company sustained serious burns and was transported to hospital by paramedics for treatment.  

A number of nearby homes and businesses have been evacuated as a precaution.

“Because of the black plume coming from the fire -- and we've got a nice south wind, about 10 km/hour, blowing -- we decided to evacuate the neighborhood just to the north of the building,” Upper said.

Residents from evacuated homes have been sent to a local community centre. Other residents have been told to shelter in place and to keep their doors and windows closed to avoid the smoke.

Upper said crews are continuing to fight the blaze defensively and will likely remain at the site all day.

At around 2 p.m., St. Catharines Fire said the blaze had been brought under control, but firefighters continue to address hot spots at the scene.

Surveillance video taken from the area shortly after the fire started and obtained by CTV News Toronto shows a bright-lit sky, with flashes and booms from the explosions.

Exclusive drone footage of the site obtained by CTV News Toronto shows firefighters dousing the site with water in an effort to extinguish the flames.


He said there are also concerns that some of the chemical might leak into the lake.

“The owner is on scene now and we have a good description of what the chemicals are in the building,” Upper said. “We are concerned that there are some cleaning agents in the one bay and we're trying to determine the level of fire, how far it's extended and our exposure to that area.”

He said a boat is being launched by a hazardous materials company to try and contain any runoff from the fire that might end up in the lake.

“We know that all of the runoff is being collected in the ditches and it's running through the system and that it's going into the lake,” Upper said. “We have a hazardous material company on scene right now. They're launching a boat and they brought in marine booms. So we're working to stem the water from flowing into the lake and then whatever's in the lake right now, we're trying to catch.”

Fire and paramedics are also on-scene.

“We have responded to the area with emergency service personnel.  Multiple units from St. Catharines Fire Service and Niagara Emergency Medical Services are on scene near Seaway Haulage Rd at Keefer Rd.,” Niagara Regional Police told CP24 in an email.

“We are asking members of the public north of this location to stay indoors and out of any smoke. Do not come to the area.”

St. Catharines Fire Services said the Ministry of the Environment will be doing air quality monitoring in the area.

Ontario’s Office of the Fire Marshal will also be attending the scene.

Videos and images posted to social media showed a large fire burning, with heavy smoke pouring from the scene.  

Niagara Student Transportation Services said in a tweet that “there will be some significant delays and possible route cancellations this morning because of the fire. The organization advised people to check online for a full list of affected routes. Top Stories

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