Hundreds of residents evacuate as food plant fire spreads

Firefighters were at the scene of a massive blaze at the Bonduelle food-processing plant in...

Firefighters were at the scene of a massive blaze at the Bonduelle food-processing plant in Tecumseh, Ont., Friday morning. (Tecumseh Fire Rescue Service)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:43 AM ET

Hundreds of residents forced to evacuate their homes early Friday after fire spread through a vegetable processing plant in a town near Windsor, Ont., were allowed to return by the afternoon.

Firefighters feared flames at the Bonduelle vegetable processing plant were nearing large tanks of ammonia.

At its peak, nearly 60 firefighters from across the region battled the blaze.

Huge black clouds of smoke could be seen over the Detroit-Windsor skyline, and several roads were shut down.

There weren't any reports of injuries.

"It's devastating. It's a sad day for the community," Mayor Gary McNamara said.

Fire officials were still assessing the damage to determine the cause of the fire that started about 2 a.m.

The fire destroyed 4.5 million kgs of frozen vegetables in warehouses, company officials said.

Production and canning facilities appear to be intact, but warehouse buildings were heavily damaged, Daniel Vielfaure, chief executive officer of Bonduelle Americas, said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

The plant employs 200 full-time workers and at least 200 seasonal employees, Vielfaure said.

"Our concern is to assess the damage and see how quick we can get that plant running," he said. "We can rebuild the plant, there is no doubt about it."

The timing of the fire couldn't be worse for Bonduelle because it's peak season for processing vegetables. A nearby plant will help pick up the slack until the damaged plant is able to re-open.

- with files from Sheena Goodyear

 


Videos

Photos