01/02/2012 04:26 EST | Updated 03/03/2012 05:12 EST

Winnipeg Fibreglass Plant Destroyed By Fire


Winnipeg fire crews spent much of Monday at a St. James fibreglass window and door component plant that was destroyed by an early-morning fire and explosion.

The fire at Omniglass Ltd. on 1205 Sherwin Road started just after midnight.

A total of four firefighters were injured after an explosion occurred in the building, but no one was seriously hurt.

One of the firefighters was sent flying from the explosion, but he was treated in hospital and released. The three other injured firefighters were treated at the scene.

Fire crews continue to pour water on the roof late Monday morning, while a demolition team is trying to tear down the building, part of which has been completely gutted.

"It's still burning in the middle of the building … we can't get in to get at it," fire platoon chief Brian Somers told CBC News late Monday morning.

"We're trying to work with aerial ladders and [a] backhoe to get it pulled down to where we can get it extinguished."

Omniglass workers shocked

Police officers have also been at the scene, keeping spectators — including some Omniglass employees — at a safe distance as the building is set to be demolished.

"The whole building is twisted and structurally unsafe right now, so that's why we can't get crews inside to attack these hotspots," Somers said.

The employees who came to see the fire told CBC News they had received calls in the middle of the night, advising them not to come to work.

Machine operator Vivian Mabasa said she had to drive to the Omniglass site to see the damage for herself.

"I was excited to come to work and start a new year, and I'm very, very, very sad right now," Mabasa said.

Omniglass president Laurie Davies said he also got a call overnight about the blaze, which he agreed was not an ideal way to begin 2012.

"Yeah, not a good start," Davies said. "How soon can we get it going again — that's what's going through my head."

President pledges to rebuild

A total of about 65 people work at Omniglass, which manufactures fibreglass for windows and door frames for customers based mostly in United States, Poland, England and Saudi Arabia.

Davies said he is committed to rebuilding the facility.

"We got to get [it] up and running as soon as we can, find alternatives," he said. "Maybe some other people like us can help us in the area to do the same process."

No one was inside the plant at the time of the blaze.

Neither the cause of the fire nor a damage estimate is known at this time. Davies the plant had an upgraded fire and sprinkler system.

Sherwin Road remains closed between Notre Dame and Dublin avenues as of Monday afternoon.