A chemical fire at a Vancouver container terminal led to a partial evacuation of Canada’s largest port for several hours Wednesday afternoon, as a cloud of white smoke drifting over the city prompted health warnings and road closures, says Canadian Press.
"All south shore of the Burrard inlet port
operations have been shut down, including rail and truck access," said Port Metro Vancouver spokesman John Parker-Jervis in a statement. The burning container contains trichloroisocyanuric acid, a hazardous organic compound commonly used as an industrial disinfectant and bleaching agent, he added.
The Port evacuated its Centerm terminal, which is operated by DP World Vancouver, and nearby port properties. It said that emergency services were on-site and actively determining if additional evacuations were required.
About 65 firefighters, including crews from two fire boats and hazardous materials teams, battled the blaze at one point, surrounding the flames even from above with three pieces of aerial equipment that were 33-metres tall, said Ron Coulson of Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.
Coastal Health spokesman Gavin Wilson confirmed that the chemical involved in the fire is trichloroisocyanuric acid, which is an industrial disinfectant that can be used as bleach and sometimes in place of chlorine in pools.
Vancouver police are advising everyone east of Main and north of First Avenue to close their windows and remain inside for the time being. Port Metro Vancouver said
that port properties on the south shore have been evacuated as a safety measure, according to its Twitter account.