No injuries reported after large explosion heard at Hamilton steel factory

No injuries have been reported after a large explosion at a steel factory in Hamilton Friday morning, according to Hamilton police.

Large clouds of brown smoke were seen coming from Hamilton’s waterfront industrial zone.

Shortly after 11:00 a.m. Hamilton fire crews said they were called to 300 Wilcox Street, north of Burlington Street, for a fire in a building belonging to ArcelorMittal, a steel production company, according to Hamilton Fire. 

Hamilton fire and police officials initially said the blast took place at Stelco Hamilton Works. In fact, the blast took place at ArcelorMittal Dofasco.

Marie Verdun, a spokesperson for ArcelorMittal Dofasco, said the fire was a result of a “slag pit eruption.”

“At approximately 11:10 a.m. a slag pit eruption occurred at the No. 4 Blast Furnace. Thankfully there are no injuries. However the event caused a significant air emission. Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks have been alerted,” the statement reads.

Verdun says ArcelorMittal did attend the scene.She said the site is now secure and the company will provide an update shortly. 

Sheri Ovis, a resident living nearby, told CBC Toronto she “heard bangs and it felt like three loud shockwaves. We went outside and saw the huge cloud of brown rusty coloured smoke.”

Other residents from Hamilton, Stoney Creek and Burlington reported hearing the blast, some saying it sounded like “bombs going off.”

Hamilton police acting Staff Sgt. Jason Leek says all employees are accounted for.

Leek said the incident caused “quite a cloud” but it dissipated quickly and police are not aware of any safety or environmental concerns.

“There was no residual fire or danger that we’re aware of right now and no roads are closed,” he added.

Hamilton Fire and Hamilton Police have since cleared the scene. 

Sheri Ovis, a resident living nearby, said in a tweet: “We heard bangs and it felt like three loud shockwaves. We went outside and saw the huge cloud of brown rusty coloured smoke.” (Submitted by: Sheri Ovis)

Leeshai Peel said she was taking her son tobogganing on a hill in East Hamilton, when she heard a series of explosions.

“We saw a massive explosion, which was followed by the rolling smoke and a big, huge puff of smoke,” Peel told CBC News. “Initially, we thought it was fireworks … within seconds we looked out and saw that it was actually coming from the factories.” 

“We just immediately went home because we didn’t know if it was safe or not,” she said.

“We were smelling something unusual, something like sulfur, and we had our five year old with us and he kept asking me if it was dangerous and I kept telling him not to worry — but it was it was quite jarring.” 

Leeshai Peel was tobogganing with her son on a hill in east Hamilton when they heard a series of explosions before seeing a large cloud of smoke loom over. (Submitted by: Leeshai Peel)

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