Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Plastics reycling plant in Transcona destroyed by fire

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Fire destroyed a plastics recycling plant in the RM of Springfield Sunday morning, with fire officials placing the estimated dollar loss in excess of $2 million. The fire at XPotential Products Inc., on Redonda Street, north of Transcona, was reported at 2 a.m.

Mike Purtill, chief of the Springfield Fire and Rescue Service, said the site’s main building had finally burned out by late Sunday afternoon but added that a large outdoor stockpile of waste plastics was still burning and could be burning for another six to 12 hours.

Purtill placed the estimated dollar loss at between $2 million and $4 million. He said the fire destroyed a 50,000 square foot recyling building, which contained machinery and more than one million pounds of finished product, and a second, smaller building.

Owner Jack Lazareck said that XPotential uses a patented technology that takes waste plastic and non-metal auto parts and transforms the material into landscaping ties, parking curbs and fence posts.

“We lost two buildings but until we can get into the site we won’t know the total extent of the damage,” Lazareck said as he waited on Redonda Street in his truck watching the plant burn. “We have to evaluate the damage. My initial reaction is to rebuild and get going again as soon as possible.”

The plant is located in an industrial park that juts into the eastern side of Winnipeg. Thick black smoke poured from the building all day but a strong wind took the smoke in an easterly direction away from Winnipeg and out over neighbouring farmland. There were concerns that the smoke could contain toxic material. The only single-family home on Redonda was evacuated early Sunday morning. A spokesman for the Office of the Fire Commissioner said an air quality sample was taken from an area to the east of the fire, atop a railroad overpass on the east Perimeter Highway. The test was negative for any presence of volatile organic compounds and other toxic substances. The spokesman said environment officials with the provincial Conservation department will monitor the situation.

Capt. Scott Wilkinson of the Springfield Fire and Rescue Service said that when the first crew arrived at the XPotential plant they found the facility’s main manufacturing building fully engulfed. Wilkinson said the service’s second crew was called out. Help was requested from East St. Paul and the Narol Fire Department in the RM of St. Clements, Wilkinson said, adding a total of 40 firefighters fought the blaze for most of the morning.

Wilkinson said firefighters tried to put out the blaze at the firm’s main manufacturing building but intense heat and structural concerns forced them to leave the building.

“They had to pull the people out and then fought a defensive fire, ensuring that it did not spread to any other buildings,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson said the fire was brought under control by 10 a.m. but the fire remained burning into the afternoon. A standby crew of about 6 firefighters remained on the site for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening, watching the stockpile of plastic waste product burn and to ensure the fire did not spread.

Wilkinson said fighting the fire was made more difficult by the strong easterly winds that fanned the fire. He said that crews were also cognizant of the hazardous nature of the stockpiled material. Wilkinson said crews from Springfield and Fire Rescue are familiar with the plant, having responded to fires and medical calls there in the past.

In May 2002, a fire at the plant forced the evacuation of three homes in nearby Transcona. Bales of shredded plastic caught fire in the early morning.

Lazareck said XPotential Products, a Winnipeg-based firm, began 15 years ago with a plant in Regina. The firm’s Redonda Street plant was built six years ago. The site includes three buildings and an office building. The facility purchases used plastic bags and containers and other waste plastics from the Winnipeg area to make its composite material posts.

Lazareck refused to disclose sales figures but said the plant markets its unique composite material posts all over North America and elsewhere.

Lazareck used to own General Scrap, a nearby scrap metal operation on Springfield Road.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 8, 2006 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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