New Brunswick

Air-quality advisory lifted for Minto-Chipman area after weeklong tire fire

An air-quality advisory for the Minto-Chipman area was lifted Monday evening, more than a week after an industrial fire at a tire recycling plant sent heavy plumes of smoke into the air. 

A public meeting about the fire will be held at the Minto Seniors Hall on Jan. 7

The fire was completely covered by sand as of Friday evening, one week after the fire started. (New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization RPAS Team)

An air-quality advisory for the Minto-Chipman area was lifted Monday evening, more than a week after an industrial fire at a tire recycling facility began sending heavy plumes of smoke into the air. 

"Due to the fact the fire has been covered with sand and there are no signs of smoke, the air-quality advisory has been lifted," Dr. Cristin Muecke, deputy chief medical officer of health, said in a news release. 

Results of air-quality sampling done while the fire still burned were not cause for concern, according to the release. Air quality sampling will continue in the short term.

The water advisory for users of the Minto industrial park water system, which includes W.G. Bishop Nursing Home and Queens North Community Health Centre, remains in place.

Those affected by the advisory should not drink the water until testing shows it's safe.

TRACC still operating

The tire recycling plant that caught fire Dec. 20 is still operating, despite significant damage to the company's building and its tire storage area.

"Although there was significant damage to our main building we continue to operate in another part of our business," Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation said in a statement online Monday.

"We have already started making plans to repair equipment, which was for the most part, spared in the fire."

It took a week to put out the fire in the tire yard, which had to be smothered by sand. 

The company is one of Minto's largest employers, with 52 people on the payroll. Curtis Richardson, communications manager for the recycling plant, said the goal is to keep all those people with the corporation. 

"We really don't want to do any layoffs, we are going to keep everybody on staff until we figure out what's going forward," said Richardson.

"It's really important to us that we support the community and we've been here for 23 years, and as one of the largest employers here we really want to continue."

The business is now working with an environmental engineering firm that is assessing the air and water quality and reporting to the Department of Environment and Local Government.

TRACC is one of the village's largest businesses and employs about 50 people.

"This is our community and we are committed to operating and having our employees at work while we ensure the environment on and around our property is closely monitored," the TRACC statement said.

Part of the building was damaged in the fire, but the flames were put out by firefighters early on Dec. 21. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The cause of the fire remains unknown. 

A public meeting will be held at the Minto Seniors Hall on Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. regarding the fire at TRACC and those affected.

Representatives from the village council, EMO, Department of Environment and Local Government, Department of Health, Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Fredericton-Grand Lake MLA Kris Austin, and the fire marshal will be available to answer questions. 

Austin, who is also People's Alliance leader, said he is optimistic the community will emerge stronger. 

"You've got around 50 employees that are there," he said of the recycler. "That's direct jobs. Then when you look at the spinoff, there's many more jobs on top of that.

"It may not seem like a lot for a lot of people in New Brunswick, but when you look at Minto, it is. It means a lot."

Thermal imaging provided by the province last week showed areas recently covered up with sand but still burning underground. (Submitted by Geoffrey Downey)

with files from Philip Drost


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