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B.C. ice rink where 3 people died remains closed due to safety concerns

Last Updated Oct 22, 2017 at 12:40 am EST

FERNIE, B.C. – Residents who were forced from their homes because of a deadly ammonia leak at an ice rink in Fernie, B.C., still don’t know when an evacuation order will be lifted.

A total of 95 people who live around the Fernie Memorial Arena were forced from their homes for safety reasons and are being put up in a local hotel.

Fire chief Ted Ruiter says the arena remains closed as experts continue to try to determine if it’s safe to enter again.

Two men from Fernie and one from Alberta died last Tuesday and authorities are trying to piece together a timeline leading up to the deaths.

Wayne Hornquist, 59, and Lloyd Smith, 52, worked for the City of Fernie while 46-year-old Jason Podloski worked for refrigeration company CIMCO.

Ruiter says an emergency response team that includes experts from a number of private companies continues to work around the clock and have obtained some samples that are being tested.

“It’s really important to understand the magnitude of this process and safety remains our number one concern,” Ruiter said in a statement on Saturday.

“While we continue to make progress, every step along the way must be done precisely which takes time.”

Ruiter is asking the residents who had to leave their homes to be patient and said that getting them home safely remains a top priority.

Counsellors have been made available to help people deal with grief and stress.

Ammonia is used in mechanical refrigeration systems, including those in ice rinks. The colourless gas is toxic if inhaled.