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Emergency declared in Meaford after destructive fire sparks environmental concerns

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The Municipality of Meaford has declared an emergency days after a fire tore through an automotive shop, causing water safety concerns for the community.

The municipality declared a formal emergency late Sunday afternoon due to "ongoing environment concerns" following the blaze on Sykes Street North Thursday evening that destroyed a used car dealership and auto repair shop on Highway 26.

"We have concerns about soil contamination and residue from the site flowing into the nearby watercourse if the weather changes," the municipality noted.

According to the municipality's website, declaring an emergency gives it more power and authority to respond to the situation.

RELATED | Meaford fire on Highway 26 destroys automotive shop

The municipality temporarily stopped the water supply and issued a drinking water and water consumption notice to monitor for any contaminants.

Residents were asked to avoid drinking the water until it could be tested.

"We are doing everything that we can to expedite the approvals that we need from provincial partners. While we know this is an inconvenience to residents and businesses, we expect to have additional information about the 'Do-Not-Consume' advisory within the next 48 hours. Our thoughts are with the owners of Johnny B's, as they will be dealing with the consequences of Thursday's fire for months to come," stated Mayor Ross Kentner on the municipality's website on Sunday.

Residents are also encouraged to avoid providing tap water to pets or using the water to brush teeth, wash food, prepare food and drinks, make baby formula, or make ice cubes.

Businesses are not required to close.

A water distribution centre set up at the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre on Collingwood Street West is open to residents between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day until the 'Do Not Consume' advisory is lifted.

Bottled water is available at the arena for residents while supplies last. The limit is one case per family.

Residents are asked to bring bottles and containers to fill with water at the temporary water distribution and refill centre.

Anyone unable to physically pick up water can call 211 for assistance.

The municipality stated there are no concerns regarding air quality at this time.

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