July 18 (Bloomberg) -- A fire that ripped through a Bonduelle S.C.A. food-processing plant in southern Ontario containing thousands of pounds of ammonia has been contained and an evacuation order lifted, a town official said.
“The fire is active but under control,” Tony Haddad, chief administration officer for Tecumseh, a town of about 25,000 people 21 kilometers (13 miles) east of Detroit, said by phone. “Things are looking better.”
Ontario emergency management officials earlier ordered the evacuation of about one square kilometer around the plant which processes vegetables for customers including General Mills Inc.’s Green Giant brand.
About 1,300 residents live in the affected area, Haddad said. No injuries were reported.
“The imminent danger is behind us,” Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara said in a media conference. A recording was posted on the town’s website.
The plant contained more than 2,250 kilograms (4,700 pounds) of ammonia in two storage tanks in the building, and the fire came within about 150 feet of the tanks, Doug Pitre, the Tecumseh fire chief, said at the media conference.
The greatest risk now is collapsing walls as firefighters deal with hot spots in the building, he said. Pitre estimated the damage to the building is in the millions of dollars.
“Property damage is considerable, and it will probably be difficult for the plant to operate for the current production campaign,” according to a statement from Villeneuve d’Ascq, France-based Bonduelle. “The delays and production-relaunch plans will only be able to be determined after detailed examination of the damage.”
The Tecumseh plant produces almost 30,000 metric tons of frozen goods and 20,000 tons of canned goods, primarily for Green Giant, according to the company statement. The plant has 200 permanent employees, 450 seasonal workers and receives goods from 110 farmers, the company said in the statement.
The fire is suspected to have been caused by an electrical problem, Gilles Corriveau, a spokesman for Bonduelle, said by phone from Montreal. An investigation is continuing and the company is co-operating fully, he said.
Daniel Vielfaure, chief operating officer for Bonduelle Americas, which operates 11 plants in North America, is on his way to the town, Corriveau said.
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