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. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

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. Alexandra Heck/The Free Press

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 over 5000 it became apparent that at least two city workers and possibly an 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 two of its residents, 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

RDEK reminds public to register for their emergency notification system. File photo.
RDEK reminds residents to register for East Kootenay Evacuation Notification System

Provincial Alert system cannot be used for local emergencies

RCR’s snow making is one of the bulk water users in Kimberley. Matt Mosteller file
Kimberley bulk water rates to rise 20 per cent if bylaw adopted

Bylaw given first three readings this week

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

David Moskowitz file
Wildsight to present webinar on Inland Temperate Rainforest

Join Wildsight next Tuesday, December 1, 2020 for a free webinar on… Continue reading

Carmen Hintz (right) donates $500 to Heather Smith (left) at the Kimberley Food Bank, leftover cash after fundraising to rescue four kittens. Paul Rodgers photo.
Local’s extra kitten fundraiser money donated to Kimberley Food Bank

Carmen Hintz donates $500, after raising money to support rescued cats

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

FILE - This May 4, 2020, file photo provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, shows the first patient enrolled in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  Pfizer announced Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, more results in its ongoing coronavirus vaccine study that suggest the shots are 95% effective a month after the first dose. (Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP, File)
VIDEO: B.C. planning for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the first weeks of 2021

The question of who will get the vaccine first relies on Canada’s ethical framework

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

Most Read