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Environment


Canton shrinks evacuation zone while EPA monitors industrial fire
Sulfur dioxide billowed from a fire in an abandoned factory and spread over much of the city
by WKSU's M.L. SCHULTZE


Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
 
Convoy Containers closed in 2011, but apparently left behind vats of sulfur, which firefighters believe ignited Monday afternoon.
Courtesy of M.L. SCHULTZE
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In The Region:

The Canton Fire Department continues to shrink an evacuation zone that at one point covered much of the northeast side of the city. And EPA and Hazmat officials continue to monitor the smoke and few hotspots at an abandoned factory that spewed sulfur dioxide over the city for more than 12 hours.

LISTEN: Evacuation update

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 A few rows of charred brick, still billowing smoke, are all that’s left of Convoy Containers. That smoke still carries the acrid odor of sulfur, which was stored in vats in the abandoned factory on 20th Street NE and which firefighters believe self-ignited Monday afternoon.

Canton Fire Division Chief John Whitlatch says the choice of tools to fight the fire were limited.

“You can use water on a sulfur fire but the problem is it creates a byproduct of sulfur dioxide, which is the hazardous component. So you have to put it out with water yet it creates a gas that is not really human friendly”

About 100 of the people evacuated from the bungalows and frame homes in the neighborhoods within more than 20 blocks of the plant took shelter at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. Many said they didn’t even know the plant existed. About 7,000 people live in the original evacuation zone, which has now shrunk to about eight blocks.

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