Future unsure after paint recycling plant fire

Christopher Gooding
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SPRINGHILL Employees of the Paint Recycling Company here are wondering what the future holds after an early morning blaze brought operations to a halt but owner Pierre Landry says their jobs are safe.

Were trying to cope but theres no cause for concern were moving from Springhill, Landry said. It would be foolish to move anywhere else.

Springhill Police were notified shortly before 5 a.m. of smoke rolling out of the Main Street business and fire departments from Springhill and Oxford were quickly brought in to take charge of the situation.

A quarter of the building was engulfed when we arrived on the scene, Springhill Fire Chief Thomas Corkin said. It was contained to the area of the electrical room and offices. Next to that was palletized paint cans and, unfortunately, cardboard containers.

Emergency Measures Officer for the county Jim Hannon was immediately called, Corkin said.

Just two days prior, the Springhills fire dept., police and ground search and rescue participated in an information session with Hannon and Amhersts HazMat response team on what to do in the event Ropak, Surrette Battery or the Paint Recycling Company were involved in a fire because of the potentially harmful chemicals used at each business.

In the event the building became fully engulfed we would have evacuated homes, Corkin said. Thank God it didnt come to that. The environmental issue was the tricky part of it. There was concern about the groundwater being affected.

Bringing the fire under control was a harrowing experience, Corkin said. Under the direction of Deputy Fire Chief Carl Black, who was the first senior officer on the scene, two attack lines were formed to extinguish the fire which was causing paint cans to explode; one line from the front of the building and another from the side. As the orange glow of the fire began to dim sparks flew from the roof of the building as volunteer fire fighters cut through the metal roof of the building.

It was an unbearable scene for operations manager Lee St. Peter. As water flooded down Main Street and turned to ice in the -20º weather St. Peter trudged through the torrent to get closer to the activity. Within minutes his feet and legs were encased in ice as he paced and turned away from the sight of the burning building in disbelief.

I didnt even notice for at least a good 20 minutes, St Peter said of his frozen limbs.

The fire marshal was on scene later that morning to investigate the cause of the fire.

Employees of the Paint Recycling Company sat together in cars in front of the charred and still-smoking building drinking Tim Hortons coffee, smoking and trying to determine what to do next while others helped with the clean up of the building.

I dont know whats going to happen, Erwin Bird said. Im sure Pierre will figure something out. Ive worked eight years for him and hes always been good to us.

While concerned about the affects of the fire on the steel building Landry says much of the equipment used to recycle the remains of paint in empty cans and turn it into a commercial product a process coined by Landry was unaffected by the fire but a considerable amount of water damage took place and the front offices were destroyed by the fire.

Currently were trying to find a location in town to move what we have, Landry said. We need 5,000 to 6,000 square feet.

Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott and Springhill Mayor Allen Dill both approached Landry offering to assist his company any way they could. The impact of the fire, Dill says, will have an immediate impact on both the community and the Paint Recycling Companys employees.

This is a tragedy when you have 13 employees in a small town like Springhill, Dill said. It affects their families. The staff there are great people and theyre the type of people industry looks for when they create jobs.

The Paint Recycling Co.-Laurentide Resource is the largest paint recycler in North America. The company also operates a processing facility in Victoriaville, Quebec.


Organizations: Paint Recycling Companys, Springhills fire dept., Tim Hortons Paint Recycling Co.-Laurentide Resource

Geographic location: Oxford, St Peter, North America Victoriaville Quebec

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