An early morning fire in a Lindsay industrial complex, which forced the evacuation of nearby residents and businesses, was described by City fire chief Dave Guilbault as "a giant oven."
The fire at the Cintas uniform building on Fleetwood Road in Lindsay broke out shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday. City of Kawartha Lakes Fire and Rescue Services chief Dave Guilbault said that although cleaning chemicals such as ammonia and bleach were present in the plant, the chemicals were stored in a separate area, which the firefighters quickly sealed off.
"The fire was predominantly in the area where all the uniforms are," he said. "We immediately ensured the area where the cleaning chemicals are stored was contained. But with the clothing, rubber mats and a certain amount of wood construction, it's like a giant oven in there."
A four-block radius was evacuated, including homes on Beverly Street and Highway 36 and more than a dozen businesses. An emergency plan was in place to further evacuate I.E. Weldon high school, and inmates at the nearby Central East Correctional Centre would have been evacuated if necessary.
More than six hours later, firefighters were still battling the stubborn remnants of the blaze, which resulted in more than 40 people being off the job Tuesday.
The cause of the fire is not known, and Chief Guilbault said there were no employees in the Cintas plant when the fire broke out.
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06-15-2004, 06:25 PM #1
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Lindsay Ontario--Industrial Building Destroyed
06-16-2004, 01:46 PM #2
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From The Lindsay Daily Post
Fire causes $2M damage
Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 09:00
Local News - LINDSAY - An area of about four blocks in northeast Lindsay, including several businesses and some residences, was voluntarily evacuated yesterday as over 40 firefighters battled a blaze at Cintas, a uniform cleaner and supplier on Fleetwood Road that employs about 50 people.
There were no injuries resulting from the fire that started in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
According to City of Kawartha Lakes Fire Service chief Dave Guilbault, emergency personnel received a call around 3:20 a.m.
They arrived to heavy smoke from the rear of the building and heat discolouration on the steel cladding on its exterior, indicating intense heat inside.
Fire fighters were forced back by the heat when they attempted an interior attack on the blaze, causing them to take a more defensive approach.
"We are engaged in parts of a defensive and offensive attack," he said. While fire crews doused the building with water in the morning, some firefighters worked their way into the building.
He said there was much work to be done, with "piles of clothes to be pulled apart."
Because officials did not immediately have access to material safety data sheet (MSDS) information to learn what chemicals or hazards may lie within the building, the four-block area was evacuated around the fire as a precautionary measure.
The area was bordered by Kawartha Lakes Road 36, St. David and Beverly Streets and Fleetwood Road.
Toxic smoke filled the air with a acrid smell that dissipated as the blaze was brought under control. The smoke contained chemicals from insulation, roofing material, cleaning materials and rolled up rubber carpets.
"You don't know what happens when they mix," Guilbault said.
Included in the voluntary evacuation were Fleetwood Canada, Bonar Plastics, T.S Manufacturing and I.E. Weldon Secondary School, even though it was not in the immediate vicinity.
Guilbault stressed the evacuation was only voluntary, as opposed to a forced evacuation where the mayor must declare a state of emergency.
Businesses were only warned of the threat of inhaling toxic fumes and left to make their own decision. Several declined to evacuate, an issue Guilbault said will be addressed later as officials remind business of the health risks that they took by staying open.
"We take this very seriously," he said.
At the fire's strongest intensity, Guilbault said even the elevated platform on the boom fire truck had to be pulled away from the building because of the heat.
He said initial concern for the water runoff from the building prompted the department to bring in a hazardous materials cleanup crew and Jeff Redmond Septic Service to pump water from the site.
They also placed booms at the Scugog River to catch the small amount that made it into the sewer system.
Six divisions of fire services attended the scene with about a half dozen vehicles, along with the the Kawartha Lakes OPP and officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Labour.
Guilbault estimated the damage to be over $2 million to the factory. He noted that the roof had buckled and he would not allow fire fighters on it.
"It's not structurally sound," he said of the gutted building.
The evacuation was slowly lifted for area business and the few residents of the area as work continued on the site into the afternoon.
By mid afternoon, firefighters were still putting out hot spots and ventilating the building, which was not yet safe for the fire marshall's investigation.
Guilbault said the situation was a job well done for all involved.
"We can't say enough of the Kawartha Lakes Police Service," he said, noting the department also had help from Peterborough.
"Without everybody's help we wouldn't be as successful as we have been here today," he added, explaining that fire services are "indebted to the work" of the police, particularly in helping with the evacuation.
"They were awesome," he said.
Cintas is the largest uniform supplier in North America, with more than 500,000 clients and more than 5 million people wearing Cintas clothing every day.
Cintas operates 365 facilities in the U.S. and Canada, including 14 manufacturing plants and seven distribution centers employing over 27,000 people.
David Amos, manager of economic development for the City of Kawartha Lakes, said he can't say much until the company makes a decision on its future and whether it will rebuild or not.
"We don't want to see any type of business that operates here leave the community. Having a fire doesn't necessarily mean that that's going to happen," he said.
Cintas workers ponder future
Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 09:00
Local News -
LINDSAY - Employees at Lindsay's Cintas factory could do little more than stand and watch as smoke billowed out of the building on Tuesday morning, a time when they would normally be inside working.
Shirley Dixon, Shirley Burke and Gladys Russell watched from a neighbouring parking lot as fire services doused the building with water. The trio were told not to come in to work Tuesday for obvious reasons.
Cintas, a Lindsay uniform cleaner and supplier, was gutted early in the morning by a blaze which is currently under investigation.
"All I know is everything was alright when I left last night," said Dixon, a four-year employee of the company.
"Right now, our biggest concern is other factories and and other peopleís safety," added Burke, who has also worked at Cintas for four years.
Russell just started work on Monday.
"I'm really sad this had to happen," she said.
"But it's good that no was hurt and no employees were hurt," she added.
Plant manager Paul Ludgatte got a phone call just before 3:30 a.m. alerting him to what was happening at the Fleetwood Road business.
"Our biggest concern is obviously just getting everything contained. No one was in the building, God bless," he said.
Derek St. Thomas has worked at Cintas for two years, although he hasn't been in to work for a couple of weeks. He decided to drop by when he heard the news. He said for him, his losses are the CD player he left at work - and his job.
"The people that work here is my number one concern. I don't give a s...t about anything else," he said.
St. Thomas' co-worker Rob Burns mirrored that mind set.
"What is everybody going to do?" he asked.
Cintas cleans uniforms and mats for many clients, mainly industries, in 450 and 650 pound washing machines and industrial dryers. A large part of the work, according to St. Thomas, is loading and unloading the trucks and hanging garments.
Wade Gates, a spokesperson for cintas at its headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, had comments that gave a positive hint for the employees now out of a job.
"Our first and foremost concern is for everyoneís safety," he said.
"Now that the fire is out, we want as much uninteruption to business as possible. That's our foremost focus right now and maintaining continuity for everyone."
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