Two youth are in custody as fire crews continue to battle a massive blaze at an auto wrecking yard in Saskatoon’s West Industrial area, police say. Firefighters and police were first called to the blaze at Avenue P South and 14th Street at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Witnesses reported seeing about five kids in the area lighting tires on fire, according to police. Two youth were taken into custody within a few hours of the call.
Thick smoke is still billowing above the auto yard, and can be seen across Saskatoon.
About 25 firefighters are battling the blaze and five fire engines are on scene, according to the Saskatoon Fire Department. More than 1,000 vehicles are in the compound.
Fighting the blaze is difficult because the scrap vehicles are stacked on top of each other, says assistant fire chief Dave Bykowy. Plastic in the vehicles is fuelling the majority of the flames, and airbag canisters are exploding and creating popping sounds.
“Because the vehicles are stacked five-high upon one another, the fire is spreading very quickly,” Bykowy says. “All fluids have been removed from the vehicles, but the plastic material in them is providing a volatile fuel source.”
A crowd has been gathering to watch the blaze since flames broke out. Police officers on scene are clearing people away and the service is asking residents to avoid the area.
“Road closed” signs are blocking several streets in the area, including Avenue P between 11thStreet and 20th Street.
Saskatchewan environment officials are also responding and conducting air quality analyses.
The owners of the auto yard say the inventory is valued at about $250,000, according to the fire department.