TORONTO — One person has died and another was in life-threatening condition after an explosion at a chemical plant, officials said Wednesday.
Toronto Fire Services said they were called to an industrial area shortly before 10 a.m. for reports of an explosion.
Acting fire Chief Jim Jessop said firefighters saw visible smoke coming from the building. Once inside, firefighters encountered heavy smoke as they did a quick search for people.
“We knew there were people in there," he said.
Toronto Paramedic Services said one person was pronounced dead at the scene and a man in his 40s was rushed to a trauma centre.
Paramedic deputy commander Shawn Staff said three other people were assessed on scene, but not taken to hospital.
Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell said the explosion occurred at Siltech, a company that makes silicone products.
The explosion triggered a small fire that officials said has now been extinguished.
"This is a sad day," Powell said.
Jessop said firefighters pulled out of the building because of the potential dangers associated with the various chemicals at the plant.
"We have mitigated the situation, we have stabilized the situation, but until we know for certain what chemicals and compounds we’re dealing with, knowing that there is no further risk to human life, we’re going to pull back," he told reporters at the scene.
Jessop said it's too early to know what caused the fire.
"Without question our crews were met with a significant chemical fire that took us a while to extinguish," he said.
These types of fires are much more challenging than the normal types the public is used to because you have to pick a specific extinguishing agent to safely extinguish it and not make the situation worse."
Police said roads and railways in the area have been shut down as the investigation continues.
They said the fire has been classified as an industrial accident. The Ministry of Labour will be investigating, police said.
A woman who answered the phone at Siltech confirmed the fire occurred there, but declined further comment.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2021.
Liam Casey, The Canadian Press