POLITICS

Fuel company pays $30K penalty in fire that threatened Winnipeg neighbourhood

01/26/2015 12:21 EST | Updated 03/28/2015 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - The owner of a biofuels company has admitted he didn't have the proper permits at the time of a fire that caused millions of dollars in damage to a Winnipeg neighbourhood.

Royce Rostecki of Speedway International has pleaded guilty to six City of Winnipeg bylaw charges.

A judge has agreed to a deal between the city and the defence that will see Rostecki pay almost $5,000 in fines — along with $25,000 for firefighting costs.

The charges relate to highly flammable, combustible chemicals being stored in rail cars at the business.

One of those rail cars exploded in October 2012, sending a massive fireball into the sky above St. Boniface.

The fire burned for hours, caused widespread evacuations and resulted in an estimated $15 million in damage.

It also filled the entire Winnipeg skyline with thick black smoke.

The cause was deemed to be accidental.

Rostecki’s lawyer, Gord Steeves, argued during sentencing that the fire was started by an "act of god" and that his client always worked to make sure the facility was safe.

Speedway International manufactured racing fuel and was destroyed when the rail car exploded.

Deputy fire chief Bill Clark admitted it was a minor miracle no one was hurt.

“If one of these rail cars had launched, it could have gone anywhere," he said. "It could have gone west into an open field or could have gone east and landed in a neighbourhood.”

(CJOB, The Canadian Press)