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Early morning fire destroys N.B. fish processing plant

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A fire destroyed a fish processing plant in Petit-Cap, N.B., early Tuesday morning.

Cap-Acadie deputy fire chief Yves LeBlanc said they received a call for smoke at Elphege & Norbert Le Blanc Ltd. just after 5 a.m.

He said the original call was for smoke in the area, but when firefighters arrived it was upgraded to a garage fire.

"While on scene it was upgraded to a commercial fish processing plant on fire," said LeBlanc.

He confirmed that one building was saved, but the business has been destroyed.

Firefighters work to extinguish the fire at a fish processing plant in Petit-Cap, N.B. (CTV/Derek Haggett)LeBlanc said there were roughly 45 firefighters from six fire departments on scene at around by 9:45 a.m.

He added the morning shift had yet to begin so the building was vacant at the time of the fire. There were no injuries.

Jacques Leblanc, MLA for Shediac, Beaubassin, Cap-Pele, tells CTV News more than 50 jobs have been lost. He is expressing concern about the number of fires in the area and wants answers. 

As of 11:30 a.m., the fire is still active. 

The province's fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire, which they hope to be determined within a few weeks. 

Firefighters work to extinguish the fire on Tuesday morning. (CTV/Derek Haggett)Back in January, the Aboiteau Wharf Restaurant and fish market in Cap-Pele also caught fire, destroying the popular stop for both tourists and locals.

While there were no injuries in that event, the destruction of the building was a total loss for the community. 

Cap-Acadie Mayor, Serge Leger, said he's frusturated with all the fires in the area over the years, and he wants answers. 

"We’re working on it,” said Leger. “The Fire Marshal is here, they’re working on it. The RCMP is taking a report. We’re working with them and we’d like to find a solution.”

Leger adds the fire and loss of a business hits the community hard. 

“It was a tough loss, again. People lose their job, the economy and everything else. This is not good. I hope we can find out what’s going on and go from there.”

Firefighters work to extinguish the fire at a fish processing plant in Petit-Cap, N.B. (CTV/Derek Haggett)CEO of the Cap-Acadie Chamber of Commerce, Anthony Azard, said there is lot's of demand for the product at the plant. 

“Herring and smoked herring especially is being exported to many countries. For example, Jamaica, Cuba,” said Azard.

“I can’t speak for the other businesses in the area, but obviously there is a demand and there might be a demand also for employees to be working at other smokehouses.” 

Yves LeBlanc said while the recent fires are unusual, but they have not been found to be connected.

“It’s quite uncommon to go to this many fires in a smaller community, but there’s nothing right now, like I said, it’s still under investigation. There’s nothing tying it to the other fires.”

Jacques LeBlanc says the community still has many questions around the circumstance of the recent fires. 

“We want answers with public safety officials, with the Fire Marshal’s office and see what they can tell us and what we can do to reassure the population. The people need those questions answered,” he said.

“These fires happen in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Why don’t they happen sometime in the day time? There’s definitely some un-answered questions here.”

More to come....

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