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Fire at Quebec Chemical Plant

July 17, 2000

Residents Evacuated After Chemical Fire edits. No pickup.

VAUDREUIL-DORION, Quebec (AP) _ An explosion and fire at a chemical plant sent up a cloud of toxic smoke outside Montreal on Sunday, prompting authorities to urge thousands of nearby residents to leave their homes.

The blaze erupted in a building believed to contain up to 6,500 gallons of toxic chemicals, including sulfuric and nitric acid, about 16 miles west of Montreal. No injuries were reported.

The thick cloud of smoke floated westward, visible for miles.

``We’re encouraging people to leave our municipality,″ said Bertrand Myre, mayor of nearby St-Lazare. ``There’s a strong odor emanating from the cloud and it’s not easy to breathe right now.

``I passed through the smoke and it just attacks your eyes and throat,″ he said.

Two French-language TV news channels estimated that around 8,000 people left their homes.

A hockey arena was opened in nearby Vaudreuil-Dorion to accommodate those forced to leave their homes.

About 100 firefighters from four neighboring municipalities battled the blaze, the cause of which was not yet known. The plant was closed when the fire began.

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