Massive Inferno Engulfs American Recycling Facility, Triggers Citywide Air Quality Concerns

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A massive inferno rages at American Iron and Metal recycling facility in Saint John, forcing local firefighters into action. The explosive blaze has consumed the green tranquillity of Gateway Street since its outbreak, blanketing the surrounding area in a dense fog of smoke since its commencement on a Thursday morning.

According to updates from Port Saint John, they received notifications of the West side fire shorty before 2 a.m. Saint John Fire Chief, Kevin Clifford, describes the task of extinguishing the fire as daunting, with the epicentre of the inferno identified to be a pile of shredded car parts towering 10 metres high, and stretching 300 metres each way. Despite the daunting task amid rising smoke and thunderous crackles of the flame, firefighters have made headway, leaving a considerable amount of work still on their plate.

Fire Chief Clifford informed the afternoon briefing, “I do hope by tomorrow morning, we’re in a situation where we have total control, and if some rain rolls into our community it’s just helpful.”

In response to worrisome air quality levels, the Saint John Emergency Measures Organization issued a voluntary shelter-in-place order for residents in the city’s south end and Millidgeville areas before eventually expanding the order to include all residents of Saint John by late afternoon. The residents were advised to stay indoors due to rising air pollution levels which potentially could cause health issues such as coughing, throat irritation and respiratory distress, according to Environment Canada’s air quality advisory.

Subsequently, multitude of uptown businesses and schools including Saint John High School, Saint Malachy’s Memorial High School and St. John the Baptist/King Edward School had to shut their doors for the day in the light of elevated air quality concerns. Nathan Hiller, a high school student, vents his discomfort with the situation, “Ya, I have a pretty bad headache because of it right now.”

Andrew Miller, a resident who hasn’t directly borne the brunt of the wind direction, expressed his empathy for his fellow citizens, “I live over here on the west side, and the wind is not going west, but I’m not happy for all the people that live in the direction the wind is going.”

While the city has no jurisdiction over the site of the fire, Mayor Donna Reardon spoke her mind on the matter, stating, “Heavy industry and residential does not work. It does not mix, it does not provide a safe environment, it impacts quality of life.”

As the officials determine what ignited this towering flames at the recycling facility, Fire Chief Clifford suspected an undetected fire brewing under the pile that ultimately worked its way to the surface. Amidst the chaos, smaller explosions have been reported, as brave firefighters persist in their efforts to prevent the spreading of these flames to neighbouring piles of scrap.

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