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Meaford automotive shop goes up in flames, sparking water safety concerns

Fire crews from multiple municipalities banded together Thursday evening after a major blaze in the Town of Meaford that has forced the closure of a road, a school and disrupted the water supply.

Calls for a fire at Johnny B's used car dealership and auto repair and body shop on Highway 26 came in around 7 p.m.

When crews arrived, the structure was engulfed in flames.

An automotive business is significantly damaged in Meaford, Ont., on Highway 26. Fri., May 26, 2023. (CTV News/Mike Arsalides)

Fire officials tell CTV News while there were people inside at the time of the fire.

At its peak, roughly 100 firefighters, many from neighbouring municipalities, including the Blue Mountains, were on the scene.

The HVAC units at the hospital and a retirement home, both within a few blocks, were shut down due to the heavy smoke.

An automotive business is significantly damaged in Meaford, Ont., on Highway 26. Fri., May 26, 2023. (CTV News/Mike Arsalides)

There were also hazmat concerns due to the fire happening at a business filled with oil, the fire chief said.

The fire has since been contained, but Highway 26 was closed at Ridge Road for crews who remained at the scene Friday morning to control ongoing hot spots.

While the Ontario Fire Marshal's office was notified, it will not be sending an investigator.

The Town said the cause of the fire is not considered suspicious.

It's unclear how the fire started, but witnesses said flames could be seen in the now scorched repair and body shop area, with dozens of damaged vehicles being moved around with heavy equipment.

Fire crews said they're thankful hundreds of tires behind the building didn't explode, and no one was hurt.

WATER SUPPLY STOPPED

The Town said while no evacuations were necessary, the municipality temporarily stopped the water supply and issued a drinking water and water conservation notice to monitor for any contaminants from the fire.

Residents are asked to avoid drinking or cooking with municipal watere water and limit consumption.

Due to the water issue, Georgian Bay Community School was forced to close for the day.

A water distribution centre has been set up at the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre on Collingwood Street West.

The municipality has arranged for bulk water delivery at the temporary water distribution centre. Residents are asked to bring bottles and containers to fill.

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