Fernie mourns after fatal ammonia leak

The community of Fernie is coming together to support each other following a local tragedy.

A memorial of flowers and cards are already starting to be placed around the Fernie Arena following a tragic incident that cost three people their lives.

Mourning has spread throughout the Elk Valley, and the municipalities of Sparwood and Elkford have joined in the lowering of their flags to half-mast, in mourning of the lives lost within a municipal facility.

“Our thoughts and prayers as a community are with these families as they try to begin the struggle to cope with their unbearable loss,” stated Sparwood Mayor McDougall.

Elkford Mayor McKerracher shared his thoughts.

“As a community we are deeply saddened by the loss suffered by our neighbours in Fernie. We send our condolences to the families.”

On Tuesday, Emergency Crews were called to the arena after reports of an ammonia leak in the building. As they arrived on scene they discovered a citizen administering CPR to an individual, then according to Fire Chief Ted Ruiter, crews entered the building and discovered two more victims.

RELATED: Three workers identified as victims of Fernie ammonia leak

Fire crews were forced to evacuate due to the hazardous material and no one has since been able to enter the building. The material is believed to be anhydrous ammonia used in refrigeration.

As word spread among the community of close to 5,000 it became apparent that at least two city workers and possibly a out-of-town contractor had died in the incident.

Resident Chris Inglis who runs a local Facebook group, Fernie: The good, the bad, changes and suggestions, was the first to place flowers near the arena in memory of the city workers.

He then left for the bank after residents suggested he create a memorial fund for the families of the victims.

While the city copes with the loss of three people, many others remain out of their homes near the arena as an evacuation order is in place.

RELATED: City of Fernie declares state of local emergency after fatal ammonia leak

The City of Fernie has closed the Fernie Aquatic Centre for Wednesday, while the Fernie Memorial Arena, the Curling Club, and the Community Centre will remain closed until further notice; following the tragedy.

The local cafe, Mugshots, is also offering complimentary meals and coffee to anyone who has been evacuated in Fernie.

While around the East Kootenay and the province an out pour of support is being offered to the small ski town with the trending hashtag #FernieStrong.

B.C. Premier John Horgan also gave his condolences stating; “This is a tragic situation. Families and friends are grieving, and our hearts are with them. We want to thank those who responded so quickly and valiantly, such as the Fernie Fire Department, Elk Valley RCMP and the BC Ambulance Service.”

The leak at the arena was first reported to emergency officials at 11:30 a.m; however the city posted to social media at 7 a.m. that the Arena will be closed today while crews complete emergency repairs to the refrigeration plant.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Four staff members at the Okanagan Men’s Centre have tested positive for COVID-19 since Oct. 23, 2020. (Adult and Teen Challenge OMC photo)
Four positive COVID-19 cases at Okanagan Men’s Centre

Those affected are staff and have been in isolation since Oct. 23

Three Okanagan College Mechanical Engineering students manufactured 3D printed Trick-or-Treat Bowls to aid in a physically-distanced Halloween experience amid COVID-19. (3D Okanagan Facebook)
Trick-or-treating made safer thanks to Okanagan College students’ project

3D-printed Trick-or-Treat Bowls available for sale ahead of Halloween

RCMP are investigating a trailer fire off Firwood Road on the Westside, discovered Oct. 27. (Google maps image)
RCMP investigate Westside trailer fire

Burned trailer discovered by RCMP Oct. 27 near Fintry

A man was caught on surveillance taking a large outdoor heater from the patio at Intermezzo early morning Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Contributed)
WATCH: Heater theft leaves Vernon business cold

Patio heater stolen from Intermezzo, found trashed

The Kalamalka Lake water source was turned off due increased algae in Kalamalka Lake Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (Stock photo)
Vernon water source shut off due to algae increase

Regional district says the switch from Kal Lake to Duteau Creek water is out of abundance of caution

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Animal care manager Tracy Reynolds confirmed the lynx is the same wildcat that was spotted wandering North Kamloops in broad daylight on Sunday, Oct. 25. BC Wildlife Park.
Lynx found wandering Kamloops taken to BC Wildlife Park

While the lynx’s outward appearance was deemed normal, it actually had an abdominal infection

Wild Tiger
AlleyCats Okanagan: Pet of the week

Meet two lovely felines looking for their forever homes

Highway 97 is closed near Monte Creek due to a vehicle incident Oct. 29. (DriveBC map)
Crash near Monte Creek impacts Highway 97 traffic

Vehicle incident shortly before 1 p.m. Oct. 29

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

Homes in Summerland have been among the households in Canada to participate in radon testing. (TakeActiononRadon.ca)
Testing finds 38 per cent of Summerland homes have unsafe radon levels

Okanagan community one of 15 involved in national testing program

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna has Canada’s fastest-growing crime rate, most opioid offences per-capita

Greater Kelowna’s violent crime rate skyrocketed nearly 60 per cent

Vince Schnabl looks at the view this October from the Gorge, west of Revelstoke. (Photo by Jon Wichett)
There’s 3 times more snow near Revelstoke than usual

According to 54 years of data from Parks Canada for Glacier National Park

Most Read