NEWS

Port Metro Vancouver fire: What you need to know

03/04/2015 09:05 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT
If you're in the downtown core, here's what you need to know about the chemical fire at Port Metro Vancouver. 

Vancouver Fire has lifted a stay-in order around 6 p.m. PT for those in the east end of the downtown core. 

Evacuated area, shelter for DTES

Health authorities say trichloroisocyanuric acid, which can be used as an industrial disinfectant, was burning at the container terminal.

Vancouver Fire Department had closed off a portion of the downtown area while the heavy smoke billowed from the container fire. That stay-in order was lifted around 6 p.m. PT

People living in Vancouver east of Main Street and north of East 1st Avenue were told to close their windows and remain inside.

A spokesperson for Vancouver Coastal Health described the acid as a "respiratory irritant," that irritates eyes and lungs, but is only dangerous in large amounts.

"If you need to go outside, cover your eyes and mouth with a wet cloth," said Viola Kaminski of Vancouver Coastal Health.

The Lookout Society was also offering shelter for anyone in the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. 

Health concerns

The chemical involved in this incident, trichloroisocyanuric acid, can cause eye and skin irritation, and it is harmful if absorbed through the skin or inhaled. 

"In large qualities, it can be potentially fatal but we're hoping no one gets close enough to inhale that kind of quantity," said ​​Karen Bartlett, a public health professor at UBC. 

"The folks that are closest to the source of the smoke are the ones we should be most concerned about."

Head to a mall if possible, she advised, as they tend to have a robust air filtration system that is often better suited to removing pollutants than a typical home environment. 

Transit cancellations, delays

Bus service will be resuming, but TransLink cautioned it will take time for the service to get back on schedule. In the meantime, customers can continue to expect delays.

All West Coast Express services departing from Waterfront have been cancelled.

Commuters can find alternate transportation on the Millennium or Expo SkyTrain lines to Lougheed Station, where a bus bridge will take them to the various West Coast Express stations all the way to Mission, B.C. 

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