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A BC community in the Kootenay region has declared a local state of emergency, and an evacuation order, for the next seven days.

Three people have died in the City of Fernie as a result of an ammonia leak in the local hockey arena.

As a result, all residents in homes and businesses between 9th and 13th streets, as well as Highway 3 to 6th Avenue, have been evacuated until Tuesday.

In a statement, Labour Minister Harry Bains about the fatalities within the community.

“The circumstances surrounding the accident at the Fernie Memorial Arena (FMA) are still under investigation, while HAZMAT teams [and WorkSafeBC] address a suspected ammonia leak.”

He also acknowledges the families grieving their losses in the midst of the emergency.

“Neither workers or families should have to fear for their safety when they do their job. Tragedies like this force us to underscore our commitment to ensure that BC families can rely on safe workplaces.”

Emergency Info BC says Highway 3 is still open to traffic to evacuate safely and swiftly, but the public is being asked to avoid the area until the situation is resolved.

The FMA is home to the Fernie Ghostriders Junior ‘B’ hockey team, who used to play the Prince George Spruce Kings in the former Rocky Mountain Junior League in the 1990s.