• Fire chief says view from the sky gave crews advantage
  • The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service released dramatic aerial footage Thursday of the fight to keep this week’s massive industrial fire at Pounder Emulsions in Transcona under control.
  • The blaze, which broke out at the asphalt plant around 10 a.m. Monday, sent plumes of thick, black smoke and a toxic stench into the air that led to evacuations and put thousands of under an order to stay indoors.
  • The footage released Thursday was captured by the WFPS drone, a tool fire chief John Lane said was integral in helping crews keep the blaze — which threatened roughly four million litres of asphalt oil — from spreading.
  • “It’s hard to imagine how we would have done with this without that aerial perspective,” Lane said at a media conference Thursday, adding it’s the fifth time crews have used the drone since the service picked it up in July.
CBC News Manitoba
  • The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the Winnipeg Police Service release raw drone footage of Monday’s fire. 1:33
  • “Each time it’s been instrumental in providing really high quality intelligence that we really couldn’t have seen in any other way.”
  • Monday’s fire broke out at around 10 a.m. in a series of tanks that hold asphalt oil at the plant on Day Street between Gunn and Springfield roads.
  • Lane said the heart of the fire was contained to six 100,000-litre tanks at the plant, but the location of those tanks — nestled between four larger containers holding three million litres of the flammable liquid — made getting at the blaze both difficult and dangerous.
  • That’s where the drone and Winnipeg police’s Air 1 helicopter came in.
  • With the help of the aerial footage, fire crews called in from the Winnipeg Airports Authority and a Canadian Forces crew from 17 Wing Winnipeg were able to pinpoint the flames with a special foam used to put out liquid fires.

A team effort

  • Lane said without the help from the WAA, 17 Wing Winnipeg and police, the fire may have turned out much differently.
  • “We don’t have the equipment to do anything that large — which is why we’re so grateful to the participation and the instant response of our colleagues,” he said.
  • “We had a long list of players who were just such integral partners in the successful management of this incident.”
  • The fire was brought under control by about 4:30 p.m., though crews from the Springfield Fire and Rescue Service remained on scene to battle hotspots through the night.
  • Reports of a fire in Transcona started coming in around 10 a.m. Monday. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)
  • Lane credited systems set up after the massive blaze at Speedway International in St. Boniface in 2012 — which produced giant plumes of black smoke and numerous explosions and fireballs — as part of the reason crews were able keep Monday’s fire from getting any worse.
  • He said the fire at the racing fuel plant was the last time the Canadian Forces and WAA helped fight a fire in the city.
  • “I cannot over-emphasize that the successful outcome of this event came as a result of collaboration, co-operation and having highly skilled and trained personnel,” he said.
  • While the city co-ordinated the firefighting efforts Monday, they’ve since transferred command of the incident back to the RM of Springfield.
  • Springfield fire says the investigation is ongoing, and both the cause and an estimate on damage are still pending.