Belleville, Ont. evacuated residents safe to return home after fire

Belleville, Ont., residents are now able to return to their homes after being forced out Sunday night, due to a large fire.

You are reading: Belleville, Ont. evacuated residents safe to return home after fire

Environmental experts spent Monday assessing the air quality and the ash that has coated several properties in the area of Station Street and Haig Road — the fire having involved construction foam and other materials.

“It’s like a Mad Max movie,” says area resident Tony Green.

Charred styrofoam litters the street and front lawns of a three block radius in the east end neighbourhood.

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The fire started at about 11 p.m., with a massive inferno coming from the lot, raining debris down on the houses.

“It was just pillowing through the air and throwing this styrofoam debris all over the place,” Green says of the smoke. “It’s just a mess. But the smoke was going way over top of us. Then an officer came to the door and said ‘you may have to evacuate, you don’t have to yet.’”

As it turns out, they did have to evacuate.

The City of Belleville says approximately 150 homes in the area were evacuated around 1:30 a.m.

According to the city, the fire happened at a vacant lot used for storage, and the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

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“It was about a two-storey storage area of styrofoam insulation, and that had caught on fire,” says Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk. “It’s very difficult because it’s chemicals, and water can’t really put it out.”

Most of those who were evacuated were sent to the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, and others were able to get a hotel room for the night.

Now, in the aftermath of the fire, city crews are starting the cleanup process.

When residents returned, they found virtually everything in their neighbourhood covered in burnt styrofoam, from their cars to the roofs of their houses.

“I took my vehicle in to get washed because it’s a new vehicle. Now we’re just cleaning up the eavestroughs and the roof, to do everything we can to rake up the yard,” Green says.

“Other than that, it’s like beating a dead horse. As soon as you clean it up, the wind is going to come up. (The styrofoam is) just so light and it’ll just come onto our yard again.”

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