The health effects of a large industrial fire in Point Douglas could last long after the firefighters extinguish the last hot spots, experts say.
The fire in the former Vulcan Iron Works warehouse complex on Sutherland Avenue sent plumes of smoke billowing over the central Winnipeg neighbourhood for hours on Tuesday, prompting firefighters to evacuate a three-block area and warn people nearby to stay inside, with their doors and windows closed.
The building contained vehicles, tires, propane tanks and other materials, firefighters said.
“We’re familiar with the issues of tobacco smoke, and we’re now very familiar with the issues of wildfire smoke — but tire fire smoke is a whole different level,” said Neil Johnston, a registered respiratory therapist who is president and CEO of the Manitoba Lung Association.
The smoke from a fire like Tuesday’s contains a “cocktail” of noxious gases and particulates that can get deep into the lungs, causing inflammation and potentially leading to long-term health problems like cancer and cardiovascular disease, Johnston said.
“There’s sulfur dioxide gases, nitrogen oxide products, which react with water and other things in the air and cause strong acids to be formed. So you’re essentially inhaling acid.”