Fish plant fire leaves doubts in St. Joseph's

The loss by fire of a shrimp plant in the St. Mary's Bay community of St. Joseph's will have a devastating effect, the town's mayor says.

"It's certainly going to have an impact for a lot of workers because I'm sure that's not something that can be replaced very quickly," Tony Healey told CBC News, in the wake of a fire that levelled Atlantic Cold Seafoods on Monday night.

"So, the people that depended on that I'm sure are certainly concerned."

Healey said the workers come from a variety of communities, so the impact would be felt outside St. Joseph's.

Thick, acrid smoke filled the air for hours as crews battled a blaze that broke out around 6:30 p.m. at the two-building operation.

The main road in the community was closed for hours, and only re-opened on Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were still on the scene Tuesday morning to ensure the area was safe.

There had been no production at the Daley Brothers-owned plant for more than a month, but the plant had been providing jobs for about 100 people during the summer months. A maintenance crew had recently been working inside the plant.

"It's a family-run business. It's been there a long time. It's hard to see it go," said Steven Singleton, as he watched flames shoot up from the facility.

"It was going full swing all summer, and now it's gone," he said. "It employs a lot of people around so I think it's going to be a real big impact, no doubt to the whole bay."

Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the fire. An RCMP officer on site said chemical inside the plant helped the blaze accelerate.

Healey said while the wind blew smoke away from homes, there were concerns about what was burning inside the plant.

"It was very fortunate that the wind direction was in a perfect position and there were no occupied houses affected," he said.

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