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Fire at warehouse in Bathurst, N.B. triggers evacuations, air quality advisory


A massive weekend fire at a building supply warehouse in northern New Brunswick briefly forced more than 100 residents from their homes and triggered an air quality advisory as a black plume of smoke filled the air.

The large blaze broke out at an Eddy Group warehouse store Saturday evening in Bathurst, N.B., prompting the local fire department to warn residents away from the Ste. Anne Street area.

"Looking up at the sky, you see this huge plume of smoke and it was a kind of an 'oh my God' type of moment... You could say it was quite impressive and quite scary at the same time," Bathurst spokesman Luc Foulem said in a phone interview Sunday.

The Bathurst Fire Department issued an air quality advisory for the area, and Foulem said those living in about 100 houses and apartments near the warehouse were asked to evacuate. No injuries were reported.

The air quality advisory was lifted around lunchtime Sunday, Foulem said, and the fire at the warehouse was considered under control with fire fighters on scene working to put out remaining hot spots as of 4 p.m. It remains unclear what caused the blaze.

Foulem said the Eddy Group warehouse in Bathurst is the company's primary distributor of inventory to the province, and about 50 to 70 people work at the site.

"As far as the estimated loss, you know we're looking at millions of dollars, both in terms of the structure and the inventory that has been lost," he added.

Videos of the blaze show bright orange flames and a large plume of black smoke that filled the air Saturday night. The City of Bathurst issued a statement on social media saying it set up a shelter at a community gym for displaced residents that evening, but was able to shut it down around 3 a.m. Sunday because people were returning home or had found alternative places to stay.

In a video statement posted to Facebook Sunday morning, Bathurst Mayor Kim Chamberlain said the gym has been reopened for those who want a place to spend the day away from the site of the fire.

"If anybody's concerned with the quality of air, if you're having a difficult time to breathe... we're here for the day, please come join us if you have any concerns," she said in the video.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2024.

-- By Lyndsay Armstrong in Halifax.

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