Edmonton·Updated

Edmonton lab fire air quality warning lifted

An air quality warning issued by the province in the wake of a fire Tuesday at a pharmaceutical laboratory in south Edmonton has been lifted as firefighters continue to battle the flames and smoke.

An air quality warning issued by the province in the wake of a fire Tuesday at a pharmaceutical laboratory in south Edmonton has been lifted as firefighters continue to battle the flames and smoke.

An air quality warning issued by the province in the wake of a fire Tuesday at a pharmaceutical laboratory in south Edmonton has been lifted as firefighters continue to battle the flames and smoke.

The precautionary warning by Alberta Health Services came after the fire broke out about 3 p.m. MT at the NAEJA Pharmaceutical Inc. lab near 91st Street and 42nd Avenue. It was lifted in the evening.

The fire is reported to be under control. There were no reports of injuries.

Before the warning was lifted, Deputy Fire Chief John Lamb said the concrete walls confined the fire to just one section of the building. But it was worried the plume of yellow, sometimes black smoke posed a health risk for those living just east of 91st Street.

"We ask the people to stay in their homes with their windows shut, furnaces off, air conditioning off, and stay in place till it's all clear, until we announce it's cleared," Lamb had said.

Around 5 p.m. MT, part of the building's roof caved in.

Residents asked to stay indoors

Alberta Health Services had said the smoke and chemicals from the fire could be particularly risky for people with respiratory problems.

"Because we are uncertain about the composition of the smoke from the fire, we are asking people in the area to be cautious and stay indoors with the windows closed until further notice," said Dr. Gerry Predy, senior medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services' Edmonton zone.

Anyone with difficulty breathing was being asked to consult a doctor.

However, by Tuesday evening, there had been no reports of people complaining of health problems, said Alberta Health spokesman Kerry Williamson.

NAEJA vice-president Deborah Helfrich said no one was hurt in the fire. She believed it started in a fridge, ignited by a decomposing chemical.

There are about 70 workers at the pharmaceutical research and development company. About a dozen of them were in the building when the fire began.

NAEJA Pharmaceuticals president Chris Micetich is thankful all his workers got out.

"Well, it's very upsetting to see it happen," Micetich said. "We've been in business since 1987.

"These kinds of things are part of the business. We just try to make sure nobody's hurt."

With files from The Canadian Press