Fire out, canola oil spill being cleaned up following Granum, Alta. crash

Containment crews are continuing to monitor a canola oil spill in an irrigation canal east of Granum.

The spill, which was caused by two semi tractor trailers that collided on Thursday, sparked a massive fire that brought emergency services from all over the region.

“The accident happened on a bridge going over one of the irrigation canals,” said Sean Kelly, fire chief for the M.D. of Willow Creek.

“As a result of the collision, both vehicles ignited and started on fire. Fortunately, we had no injuries.”

Thick black smoke from the fire could be seen from several kilometres away.

The crash happened on Highway 519 at Range Road 254 around 2 p.m. Police say one of the vehicles rear-ended the other as they were heading westbound.

The trucks were transporting canola oil and canola seed.

Fire crews were forced to let the blaze mostly burn itself out because of the oil spill and its proximity to the irrigation canal.

“We had to get Lethbridge Northern Irrigation and Alberta Environment in and they shut down the waterways to make sure that any spilling product into the waterway was contained and taken care of,” Kelly told CTV News.

The oil began spilling into the Lethbridge northern headwork’s main canal, risking contamination.

The M.D. of Willow Creek’s chief administrative officer Derrick Krizsan says Lethbridge Northern Irrigation and Alberta Environment were able to get a containment boom in place six kilometres downstream.

“Our primary concern is public safety and to minimize environmental impacts as a result of this incident,” said Krizsan.

“Any product that is moving into a water source is a concern.”

Crews have been at hard work since last night cleaning both the irrigation canal and the highway and are expected to keep doing so until further notice.

The road opened to the public around midnight and Krizsan says the support from the surrounding areas was huge.

“We came together, it was a great team effort and we’re grateful that the two drivers escaped with no injuries. We’re very grateful of that in particular.”

CTV News reached out to both the RCMP and Lethbridge Northern Irrigation for any further updates, but no new information is being released at this time.

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