Evacuations After Winnipeg Racing Fuel Plant Blast

Approximately 100 homes in Winnipeg's St. Boniface neighbourhood are being evacuated tonight as firefighters battle a massive blaze at a racing fuel plant.

The fire has produced giant plumes of black smoke and numerous explosions and fireballs.

Fire officials told reporters on Monday night that homes within a radius of 800 metres to one kilometre of the fire site are being evacuated.

Fire officials said crews are treating the blaze is a defensive fire, which means firefighters won't be sent into the fire out of concerns about explosions.

With crews having to monitor the blaze from a distance, the greatest concern is that the fire is approaching two large barrels of fuel.

Officals are worried that should the tankers come into contact with the fire, the barrels of methane and biofuel could explode and be sent up into the air, the CBC's Gosia Sawicka reported from the area.

Emergency officials did not say how many people would have to leave their homes, but they said most would be staying with family and friends.

Only a handful of people are going to venues such as the Fort Garry Curling Club, which has been set up to house evacuees.

Crews were called at around 5:30 p.m. CT to 40 Nicolas Ave., which is the address for Pro Comp Racing Methanol, a racing fuel manufacturing company.

There is a thick chemical smell in the air near the fire site, and multiple explosions can be heard, the CBC's Marjorie Dowhos reported from the scene.

City police are blocking traffic from entering much of the St. Boniface area.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority says residents who live around the plant fire and can smell the smoke should close their windows and stay indoors, unless they are ordered otherwise by emergency officials.

Both health officials and the City of Winnipeg are urging the public to stay away from the fire site, as firefighters are concerned about spectators potentially getting hurt.

Mike Neufeld, who was delivering asphalt next door when the fire started, told CBC News earlier that afternoon that he heard some explosions.

"I wasn't that far away from it when it happened there. And it was on fire. Like it was already engulfed in flames," he said.

"I could still make out the building there, but it wasn't around very long."

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