The owner of a St. Boniface fuel plant is facing multiple charges after a massive St. Boniface blaze sent fireballs into the sky and forced the evacuation of entire neighbourhoods last year.

The blaze broke out on Oct. 1, 2012, at Speedway International Inc., which manufactures racing fuel.

Flames and thick black smoke could be seen for kilometres around the plant, and people living nearby were forced to flee their homes. 

It took fire crews several hours to bring the blaze under control, and residents could not return to their homes until the following day.


What the Speedway International site looks like on Friday. (Ryan Hicks/CBC)

A strong chemical smell was present in the area for days after the blast, and sooty debris could be seen on a number of buildings and streets.

No one was injured in the blaze, but it caused $15 million in damage. It damaged nearby rail cars, vehicles and tanker trucks.

Fire officials later determined that the blaze was caused by the spontaneous combustion of an oily substance.

Now, Speedway International and its director, Royce Rostecki, are facing eight charges each.

Six of the charges fall under the City of Winnipeg's building bylaw, and 10 of the charges fall under the city’s fire-prevention bylaw.

The charges related to the storage of flammable liquids and building occupancy infractions.

Rostecki has never commented publicly about the blaze. Instead, he issued a statement through a public relations company days after fire, stating, "Speedway International went through all the permitting processes that it understood were required."

Speedway was granted an occupancy permit for a windshield wiper fluid manufacturing plant in 2000, and a fire inspection was done at the St. Boniface facility the following year, according to the company.

"Owners of Speedway International have never been informed about a requirement for a fire safety plan either verbally or in writing," the statement also said.

Deena Caplette, who owns the Kid City indoor play centre near the Speedway International site, said she wasn't surprised to hear that charges have been laid in connection with the fire.

"There was speculation at the beginning, so [I] knew that it could have been a possibility, and I guess that's for him to worry about as a business owner," she said.

The case will be heard in bylaw court on June 27.

If found guilty, Speedway International would face a total maximum fine of $40,000, while Rostecki would face up to $8,000.

List of charges

A full list of the charges was provided by a city official and is available below:

The Winnipeg Building By-Law 4555/87

Article 12.2: unlawfully permitting all or parts of the building or structures located on the premises to be in an unsafe condition

Article 15.1.1: unlawfully occupying/using a building or a part thereof without first obtaining the required Building Occupancy Permit

Article unlawfully changing the occupancy of the premises without first obtaining the required Building Occupancy Permit

The City of Winnipeg Fire Prevention By-Law, No. 150/2004

S. 19.2: failing to obtain consent of the Chief of the Fire Paramedic Service and a permit to install storage tanks containing flammable liquids

S. 3(1) [adopting s. 4.3.7. of Division B of the Manitoba Fire Code]: failing to provide secondary containment for a stationary rail car used as an above ground flammable liquid storage tank

S. 3(1) [adopting sentence of Division B of the Manitoba Fire Code]: failing to provide sufficient distance between a stationary rail car above ground storage tank and a building

S. 3(1) [adopting Article of Division B of the Manitoba Fire Code]:  failing to provide fencing for flammable liquid unloading facilities

S. 3(1) [adopting Clause and Sentence of Division B of the Manitoba Fire Code]:  storing flammable liquids in excess of maximum quantities permitted