Three dead after ammonia leak at Fernie, Canada

Three people are dead after an ammonia leak at a hockey arena in Fernie, with a central part of the southeastern B.C. city evacuated, in October.

A worker at the city-owned arena discovered a problem around 5 a.m. Tuesday and an outside group of refrigeration experts were then called in while the facility was closed to the public, according to Mayor Mary Giuliano.

The fire department responded to the rink around noon, she said, after three workers reportedly died from being exposed to a leak of ammonia, a colourless gas used in refrigeration systems that is toxic and potentially fatal if inhaled.

Several residential blocks surrounding the arena were then evacuated, including a senior's care home, Ms. Giuliano told The Globe and Mail.

She said it is unknown whether the victims were locals of the tight-knit community of about 6,000 people or members of the outside crew of specialists that was called in.

"I have gone down to the arena area and what I saw was an unbelievable number of emergency vehicles surrounding the entire arena with lights flashing, which was very shocking and really showed the tremendous seriousness of the situation and just how fragile life can be at times," she said.

Still, she said it was heartening to see people coming together to house their neighbours who remained evacuated from their homes near the arena Tuesday night.

"We've had a tremendous outpouring of assistance," Ms. Giuliano said.

The city's fire department had contacted WorkSafeBC about the incident and RCMP are now leading the investigation.

The city said in a news release it is working with CIMCO Refrigeration and is trying to obtain additional specialized resources to deal with the hazardous situation.

The Globe and Mail Inc.
Find out more on our website about: refrigeration, ammonia

Related News

generated: 0.009