Crews would have approached warehouse fire differently if contents known: chief

by The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

MISSISSAUGA, Ont—Mississauga’s fire chief says if crews had known what was inside a burning warehouse where four firefighters were injured, they likely would have approached it differently.

Fire Chief John McDougall says the firefighters were just about to enter the building Wednesday when an explosion happened, leaving three of them with “blast-related injuries.”

One of the men was sent to hospital in critical condition but has since improved to serious but stable, and the other two have been treated for broken bones.

A fourth firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and was released from hospital Wednesday.

McDougall says the man who was critical had “fairly severe internal injuries” but has stabilized after undergoing surgery.

He says his firefighters had no special information about what was inside the building, which police have since said contained goods including butane lighters and aerosol cans of insect spray.

“If they had had…identified to them what the contents of the building or the potential, they certainly would have approached it differently,'” McDougall said.

He adds all three who were hurt in the explosion were seriously injured and will have a long recovery period, but there were hopes one of them could be released from hospital on Thursday.

“A fire is always unpredictable,” he said. “But when you have an explosion as we’ve obviously had here, it’s a very serious matter.”

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office is leading the investigation into the fire, assisted by Mississauga fire officials and Peel regional police. Officials had few details Thursday about the cause of the fire, saying it was early in the investigation.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said Wednesday that firefighters had no idea what they were up against when they arrived at the scene because the building was vacant the last time it was inspected.

“We don’t know of any occupancy permit that was granted by the city for the building to be occupied with the type of material,'” McCallion said.

“The explosions caused the building to collapse and therefore seriously injured our firefighters,'” she said.

Huge clouds of black smoke and numerous large fireballs lit the pre-dawn sky at the scene of the blaze in Mississauga just north of Pearson International Airport.


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