Welcome To
Acadia Broadcasting NewsThe Latest and Greatest ContentYour Trusted Local Source


Fire crews continue to battle a blaze at American Iron and Metal in Saint John on the afternoon of Sept. 14, 2023. Image: Submitted

UPDATE: Shelter-in-place order expanded as AIM fire continues to burn

By Brad Perry Sep 14, 2023 | 4:49 PM

Saint John residents are urged to stay indoors as firefighters battle a blaze at a city recycling facility.

Visible flames were reported at American Iron and Metal on the west side of Port Saint John early Thursday morning.

Fire Chief Kevin Clifford said the fire is burning inside a pile of crushed cars that is 300 metres long by 300 metres wide, and about eight to nine metres tall.

Clifford said a tugboat from Atlantic Towing applied a heavy water fog to the flames, which helped suppress about half of the area on fire.

“I do feel at this point, we’re beginning to make progress. Probably up to an hour ago, I didn’t have that sense,” Clifford told reporters around 2 p.m. Thursday.

“We hope to get to a position where we can start picking the debris up, picking those piles up, exposing them. It’s like any kind of tightly connected pile of rubbish that we need to lift it, spray it, cover it with foam, and do it in a safe manner.”

The fire chief estimated the blaze had been burning for several hours before it was noticed.

Clifford said that he hopes firefighters will have “total control” of the fire by Friday morning.

A fire broke out at the American Iron and Metal recycling facility in west Saint John on Sept. 14, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Billowing smoke from the pile of burning cars has caused concerns about air quality in the city and beyond.

Across the harbour in the uptown area, four schools were closed early due to air quality concerns.

A voluntary shelter-in-place order that had been issued for Saint John’s south end and Millidgeville neighbourhoods has been expanded to include the entire city.

Residents are asked to stay in their homes, when possible, with their windows closed and HVAC systems turned off.

Should you need to be outside, SJ-EMO said you should consider wearing a mask “as a precautionary measure.”

Dr. Rita RaaFat Gad, the acting medical officer of health for the Saint John region, said anyone who can see and smell smoke in neighbouring communities should also shelter in place until the fire is brought under control.

“This fire is an industrial fire so it contains a mixture of chemicals due to the various substances that are burning, so metals, plastics, rubber, foam,” said RaaFat Gad.

“While we can’t really qualify what is being emitted from this fire, we expect that the plume from this fire can be hazardous to your health.”

Individuals may experience increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

Clifford said there are no plans for an evacuation order at this point, but officials will not hesitate to do so if needed.

“A large-scale evacuation can be complicated and so we always measure that. I think people can be safe by sheltering in place,” he said.

The fire chief said it was too early to know how the fire may have started but he confirmed that no injuries had been reported.

URGENT NOTICE: Shelter in place notice issued for areas of City due to smoke from fire at AIM facility The SJ-EMO has…

Posted by City of Saint John on Thursday, September 14, 2023