The explosion was heard for miles around, and the smoke could be seen from even further away. The flames that erupted at a BRP Can-Am factory last weekend created plumes of black smoke that were visible from across the border in Texas—even though the factory was located in Juárez, Mexico.
According to the National Weather Service, the smoke was so intense that it actually created clouds that were visible on radar and satellite.
The damage was extensive, but luckily no lives were lost. Here’s what we know so far.
The Can-Am factory in question is located on Santiago Troncoso Avenue and Independencia Boulevard.
It’s one of many maquiladoras in the Juárez area, or a foreign-owned manufacturing plant that assembles raw components for export. This plant receives parts from Can-Am and builds the machines before shipping them back to the US. BRP, who owns Can-Am, operates two maquiladoras in Juárez.
The explosion happened shortly after 1 PM CT, in the booming business area of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The fire was contained to the storage yard and no damage was done to the manufacturing facility where the vehicles are produced.
More than 200 people, both emergency personnel and volunteers alike, responded to the scene.
In addition to local firefighters, members from the Red Cross, Road Safety Coordination, and Local Committee for Mutual Aid arrived at the Can-Am factory.
It took four hours for firefighters to contain the blaze, and another two hours for them to secure and withdraw from the scene.
While firefighters battled the flames, local workers and volunteers controlled traffic, helped residents who had been evacuated, and delivered water to first responders.
Fortunately, all factory workers—approximately 2,000 of them—were evacuated safely, along with residents in nearby neighborhoods. A few emergency workers were treated on-site for heat exhaustion but no serious injuries were reported.
All loss for the day was focused on structural damage and Can-Am machines. There were reportedly 1,000 ATVs being stored at the factory, all of which were burned beyond recognition.
Each vehicle contained 1.5 liters of fuel, which caused the flames to grow faster and made it more difficult for firefighters to control the blaze.
The loss of machines hits a bit harder today than it would have a few years ago. In a period where showrooms and dealers are already struggling with inventory, the destruction of 1,000 ATVs could put even more of a delay on production and deliveries.
Despite the setback, the company remains hopeful.
“I am pleased that all our employees are safe and followed our health and safety protocols,” said José Boisjoli, President and CEO of BRP. “We appreciate the quick assistance of the firefighters, local businesses, and authorities. We do not anticipate any material impact to our business.”
No damage estimate has been released yet, but one report suggests the number is in the millions of dollars. Investigations to determine the cause of the explosion are ongoing. We’ll be sure to post an update should more information become available.