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RCMP investigation at B.C. ice rink continues one month after fatal leak


FERNIE, B.C. – There’s no word on when residents of the southeastern B.C., community of Fernie will have access to a rink where three men died of an ammonia leak a month ago.

Police have been investigating at the Fernie Memorial Arena, and a post on the City of Fernie’s website says members of the Elk Valley detachment are now at the site before WorkSafeBC will begin its investigation there.

The city says in the statement that it and other agencies won’t have access to the arena while it awaits findings that could determine what caused the leak on Oct. 17.

Two Fernie employees, 59-year-old Wayne Hornquist and 52-year-old Lloyd Smith, died along with 46-year-old Alberta resident and refrigeration company worker Jason Podloski, when the ammonia leak occurred during maintenance work.

Fernie declared a seven-day state of emergency, and an evacuation order covering 95 residents of 55 homes near the arena was in effect for nearly a week.

Tests conducted after crews could finally enter the arena showed there was no ammonia left in the ice rink’s system and officials said they believed all the gas had been released.

Ammonia is a colourless and toxic gas if inhaled, and it’s used in mechanical refrigeration systems such as those in ice rinks.

Copyright (c) 2017 The Canadian Press