Fire at Tata Steel mine near Labrador-Quebec border under investigation, says company
A fire broke out Thursday evening at a Tata Steel Minerals Canada mine camp in Schefferville, a small town in Quebec less than two kilometres from the Labrador border.
In a written statement to CBC News, the company said the fire resulted in no injuries among employees, many of which are from Newfoundland and Labrador, said Jean Dionne, the administrator of Schefferville.
The company says it has begun an investigation to determine the cause of the fire and to assess the extent of the damage.
The company also said its activities are suspended until further notice.
Dionne told CBC News the town's fire chief received a call requesting assistance from the mine's fire department. He said the fire started around 7:30 p.m., and that the operation ended around midnight.
"Essentially, it's the main camp building [that burned down]," said Dionne in an interview with Radio-Canada.
"So the cafeteria and the infirmary are a total loss. It is a very sad event since the production of the mine had just resumed."
Tata Steel said in a statement that the fire occurred where approximately 180 of its employees are housed. It said the fire is believed to have started in the camp's kitchen and cafeteria and was brought under control within a few hours.
Around 120 employees were scheduled to leave the site Friday afternoon to return home "pending further development," said the company in a written statement.
"Our employees were able to return to their rooms in the dormitories in the middle of the night," the statement read.
"Our current priority is to ensure the safety of our employees and minimize any disruption to our operations."
Dionne told Radio-Canada that at this point, accommodating Tata Steel employees who commute from places such as Newfoundland and Labrador will be challenging.
"They no longer have a cafeteria and a medical clinic. How are we going to manage to provide temporary services?," he said.
"Surely the [city of Schefferville] will find a way. We will do everything to give the required helping hand to the mining company."
The Tata Steel Canada mining company resumed its activities in Schefferville on Feb. 22 after having temporarily ceased operations last November.