British Columbia

Port Metro Vancouver chemical fire still smouldering the day after

A chemical fire that broke out at Port Metro Vancouver's downtown terminal yesterday is still smouldering inside the shipping container.

Health officials warn effects of chemical exposure from smoke could last 24 hours

There was a slight haze hanging over Port Metro Vancouver following yesterday's chemical fire. (Kirk Williams/CBC)

A chemical fire that broke out at Port Metro Vancouver's downtown terminal yesterday was still smouldering inside the shipping container Thursday.

The fire broke out just before 2 p.m. PT Wednesday, sending up a plume of toxic smoke that triggered a partial evacuation of parts of downtown and East Vancouver.

It took firefighters several hours to get it under control, and despite their efforts, the fire continued to flare up overnight. It was still smouldering on Thursday morning.

Deputy Fire Chief Brian Godlonton said about 30 firefighters and three ladder trucks were still on the scene as of 7 a.m. PT.

"It has cooled down substantially over the past few hours, so we are hoping that within the next few hours we'll be able to open up the container and find and secure all the chemical that we are dealing with," said Godlonton.

Company sends emergency team

The company that owns the shipping container, DP World, issued a statement on Thursday morning confirming the chemical in the burning container was trichloroisocyanuric acid, a industrial disinfectant.

"Potential side effects from long term or sustained exposure to the chemical are lung, eye or skin irritation. Any members of the public concerned or who require more health related information are advised to contact their nearest medical facility," said the statement.

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      The company has brought in an emergency response team and an occupational hygienist to assist in the assessment and cleanup of the fire, said the statement.

      On Wednesday during the height of the fire, residents downwind of the port were warned to close their windows and stay indoors to avoid breathing the toxic fumes.

      Health authorities were warning that people could feel the effects of the chemical fire up to 24 hours after being exposed.

      Patricia Daly, chief medical officer of Vancouver Coastal Health, said people, especially those with pre-existing lung problems, could experience wheezing or difficulty breathing, and if so should seek medical attention.

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