Fire at Toronto sewage pellet-making plant

The City of Toronto’s plan to turn sewage sludge into garden fertilizer pellets is on hold after a fire destroyed the pellet-making facility of the Ashbridge’s Bay sewage treatment plant on August 21, 2003.

Firefighters believe the fire started after the building was struck by lightning just after 11 p.m. Investigations are underway.

More than 100 firefighters fought the blaze for about five hours. A firefighting boat was also being moved into the area so the blaze could be attacked from the lake, as the fire department worried about a shortage of water.

Huge plumes of smokes were released to the beaches and east-end neighbourhoods, but monitoring of the smoke for hazardous chemicals indicated emissions were within "safe limits." However, the residents’ relief was short-lived as some of them experienced sewage backup into their basements.

The city had invested $23-million into the pellet-making part of the facility.