Nfld. & Labrador

Homes evacuated as fire tears through recycling depot in Baie Verte

Homes near the Green Depot in Baie Verte have been evacuated as a "major fire" rips through the building.

Fire crews concerned about health concerns from burning plastic

Hellen Wiseman-Short says she noticed smoke coming out of the building in Baie Verte on Monday afternoon. (Submitted by Hellen Wiseman-Short)

Homes near a recycling depot in Baie Verte have been evacuated as what emergency responders call a "major fire" rips through the building.

RCMP officers worked Monday afternoon to direct traffic away from the burning structure and told people nearby to leave their homes. Members of the Baie Verte Fire Department were also on the scene at Main Street.

A photo posted on Facebook at 3 p.m. shows smoke plumes from the Green Depot in Baie Verte. (Hellen Wiseman-Short)

"About two-thirds of the building are completely burned and it's pretty much approaching a nearby building," said Mayor Brandon Philpott.

Lorne Head, the chief of the Baie Verte fire department, said firefighters were doing well to contain the flames considering the high winds on Monday.

He said a dollar store is located upwind from the depot, and the fire department was concerned that it might catch fire.

"We're lucky enough I guess that the wind is off taking a lot of the smoke right out the bay there, which is taking it away from a lot of the houses," he said. "But again, it's still a big concern and we'd ask people in the area to stay away from the scene."

Risk from smoke, burning plastic 

The building, in north-central Newfoundland, houses the Green Depot, which collects beverage containers and issues refunds to customers. 

While no injuries were reported, Head said firefighters had to wear protective breathing equipment because of concerns about the burning plastic.

"You've got to realize that it's about a tractor-trailer load of recyclables that's inside the building that's all caught fire and melting down so that's going to take a good while to contain that and put it out," he said.

Lorne Head, the chief of the Baie Verte Fire Department, says firefighters are wearing protective breathing equipment to shield their lungs. (Submitted by Hellen Wiseman-Short)

He expects firefighters will be on the scene late into Monday night.

Traffic was restricted Monday from Shoppers Drug Mart along Main Street to Canada Post.

"Heavy smoke in this area is posing a risk to the public and traffic is asked to stay away from this area at this time," an RCMP news release said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined. Philpott said firefighters got their first call at about 1:20 p.m. 

With files from On The Go