A massive blaze at an automotive recycling facility in northeast Calgary is under investigation by the Calgary Police Service Arson Unit.
Crews were called to the 2700 block of 5 Avenue N.E. just after 1 a.m. on Tuesday.
The first arriving fire crew discovered two separate buildings on fire, as well as numerous cars.
Calgary Fire Department Battalion Chief Alan Ball said additional help was requested due to the size of the blaze.
“Our first on-scene officer encountered two separate buildings just about fully involved, then requested additional apparatus.”
Responding crews also had to deal with numerous small explosions from the gas tanks in vehicles on the property.
The Calgary Fire Department responds to a building fire in the 2700 block of 5 Avenue N.E. at around 1 a.m. on Thursday, July 28, 2016. Global News
The Calgary Fire Department responds to a building fire in the 2700 block of 5 Avenue N.E. at around 1 a.m. on Thursday, July 28, 2016.
“[Firefighters] made a decision early to divide their resources and attack both buildings from a defensive position simultaneously,” Ball said.
Crews used an elevated platform and large volumes of water to contain the blaze to the business where it originated.
As of 9 a.m., firefighters hadn’t yet been able to carry out a search of the interiors or either building.
“Searches of the buildings will be done when it is deemed safe to do so,” the Calgary Fire Department said in a news release.
The fire department said the fire is considered suspicious, and an investigation is underway to determine how it started.
“We’ve actually asked the Calgary Police Service arson investigation team to come in and assist us with this,” Ball said.
The lease holder is cooperating with the investigation.
According to Ball, one firefighter had to be transported to hospital after sustaining a cut on his hand.
GALLERY: Damaged caused by a fire in the 2700 block of 5 Avenue N.E.
BERLIN – Bavarian officials on Thursday pledged to hire hundreds of extra police officers and urged tougher background checks on asylum-seekers as they presented an anti-terror plan following four deadly attacks in the country in a week.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said his state – where three of the four attacks took place – would hire some 2,000 additional police officers by 2020, improve police officers’ equipment and create new offices to fight Muslim extremism and cybercrime.
He also called for tougher background checks on asylum-seekers and new strategies to deport criminal asylum-seekers more easily. Three of the four attacks were committed by asylum-seekers.
READ MORE: Authorities raid mosque in northern Germany
“The threat of Salafist terrorism has arrived in Europe, in Germany, but also in Bavaria,” Bavarian Justice Minister Winfried Bausback said at a news conference with Herrmann.
Two of the attacks – an axe attack near Wuerzburg that wounded five and a suicide bombing that injured 15 outside a bar in Ansbach – were the first in Germany to be claimed by the Islamic State group. Both of the attackers were killed.
In two other attacks – a mass shooting in Munich that claimed 10 lives, including the attacker’s, and the stabbing of a woman at a restaurant in Reutlingen – the motive is still unclear but Islamic extremism is not suspected.
READ MORE: Munich shooter, Ali Sonboly, had been planning attack for a year
Investigators say the 18-year-old German-Iranian responsible for the Munich rampage left a several-pages-long document about his psychiatric illnesses, his school situation and his neighbourhood. However, Munich prosecutors and the Bavarian state criminal police office said in a joint statement Thursday they were still evaluating which parts of the document were fiction and which were based on reality.
The attacks have brought Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy of welcoming refugees under renewed criticism. More than 1 million came to Germany last year, though the influx has since slowed dramatically.
Also Thursday, Germany’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration called on mosques across the country to be more pro-active when it comes to preventing extremism among Muslim youths.
READ MORE: Islamic State magazine claims Ansbach attacker fought for group before coming to Germany
“We need to hold mosques more responsible when it comes to prevention among teenagers,” Aydan Ozoguz told the daily Heilbronner Stimme.
On Wednesday night, police raided a mosque believed to be a “hot spot” for Islamic extremists in the northern German city of Hildesheim. The raid didn’t appear to be connected to the recent attacks.
Germany has been on the edge since the recent string of attacks and since recent deadly attacks in neighbouring France.
MOSCOW – Russia and the Syrian government will open humanitarian corridors in Syria’s embattled city of Aleppo and offer a way out for opposition fighters wanting to lay down their arms, Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Thursday.
The announcement came as Syria’s President Bashar Assad offered a general amnesty for rebels who give up their weapons and surrender to authorities over the next three months.
Syrian government forces and allied troops have encircled the main rebel enclave in the city of Aleppo, urging fighters there to surrender. Humanitarian groups have warned of a major catastrophe if the siege on the rebel-held parts of Aleppo continues. Some 300,000 residents are trapped in the eastern part of the city that is controlled by rebels, according to the United Nations.
READ MORE: Beheading of Syrian boy ‘appalling’, State Dept. ‘seeking more information’
Shoigu said in televised comments that President Vladimir Putin has ordered a “large-scale humanitarian operation” that will be launched outside Aleppo to help civilians as well as allow fighters who wanted to lay down the arms to surrender.
“Together with the Syrian government we will open three humanitarian corridors in order to help civilians who were kept hostage by the terrorists as well as the fighters who want to lay down their arms,” he told a meeting in Moscow.
Moscow welcomes international aid organizations which operate in Syria to join the Russia-lead humanitarian operation, he added. The fighters who want to surrender will be able leave the city via a corridor to the north, Shoigu also said.
READ MORE: Syria’s cease-fire strengthening al-Qaida branch
Assad, meanwhile, issued a decree offering an amnesty to armed opposition fighters who surrender within three months and urging all detainees to be freed. The decree, which was published by the state-run news agency SANA, said that those who might set free their captives will be exempted from punishment if they turn themselves in within a month.
Assad has issued amnesty offers several times in the past in the course of Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year. The offer is largely seen by opposition fighters as a publicity stunt and psychological warfare against the rebels.
More than a quarter of a million people have died and millions have been displaced since March 2011, when Syria’s conflict erupted.
Issa reported from Beirut.
TORONTO – Canada’s largest grocery chain says it’s trying to verify the accuracy of the coin-counting kiosks in its stores after TD Bank got rid of similar machines from its branches over allegations that they’ve been nickel-and-diming customers.
“We are aware of the concerns recently raised about coin-counting machines,” Kevin Groh, the vice-president of corporate affairs and communication for Loblaw, said in an email.
“We have been working with Coinstar to confirm the accuracy of the coin-counting machines located in our stores and have no current plans to remove the machines. Should customers have a concern with any of the coin-counting machines in one of our stores, please contact our customer service team to let us know.”
The coin-counting machines located in Loblaw stores are owned and operated by U.S.-based Coinstar, the same company that owned and operated the machines that TD Bank pulled from its Canadian branches in May.
READ MORE: TD Bank to retire coin-counting machines amid error reports in the U.S.
Last month, a class-action lawsuit was filed against TD on behalf of everyone who used the coin-counting machines at the bank’s branches between Jan. 1, 2013, and May 25, 2016.
Grocery store chain Metro also has Coinstar machines in its stores. A spokeswoman said the company has not received any complaints about the machines and therefore has no plans to remove them.
But Metro will continue to monitor the machines to “ensure our customers’ satisfaction,” Genevieve Gregoire said in an email.
The lead plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit is Lisa Ram, a woman from Kitchener, Ont., who says she counted her coins before depositing them in a machine at a TD Bank in the city.
Ram says she had a total of $854.25, but was shortchanged by $159.50. She alleges that she complained to the bank but they failed to do anything.
READ MORE: Man cashes in over $5K in pennies after collecting them for 45 years
A statement of claim filed by Toronto-based law firm Sotos LLP alleges that the bank knew about accuracy issues with its machines south of the border, but still proceeded with a national rollout across Canada in January 2013.
The allegations have not been proven in court.
In order to proceed as a class-action, the suit requires certification from the Ontario Superior Court.
TD Bank declined a request for comment, saying it could not comment on the pending litigation.
Coinstar said in an email that it aims to provide customers with “convenient, reliable and accurate” service and that its machines have processed more than one billion transactions over the last 25 years.
Any customer who has questions or concerns should contact customer service staff, the company added.
CILACAP, Indonesia – Indonesia rebuffed appeals from distraught relatives, rights advocates and foreign governments to abandon plans to execute 14 people for drug crimes as preparations intensified at the prison island holding death row inmates.
A convoy of ambulances, most of them carrying coffins, arrived Thursday morning at the port town nearest to the Nusa Kambangan prison island, where the mostly foreign drug convicts will be executed by firing squads. Officials began tightening security at the prison several days ago, with more than 1,000 police sent to Cilacap, the port town, and the island.
The European Union and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Indonesia to impose an immediate moratorium on executions and the Indian and Pakistani governments said they were making urgent efforts to save two nationals among the condemned.
READ MORE: UN human rights office calls Indonesia executions ‘incomprehensible’
Indonesia has not released an official list of those to be executed but the country’s attorney-general said 14 people would be put to death. Community Legal Aid Institute, which is involved in some of the death row cases, has given names for four Indonesians, six Nigerians, two Zimbabweans, one Indian and one Pakistani.
Lawyers and rights groups have raised serious doubts about the legitimacy of the convictions in several drug cases, including that of Pakistani Zulfikar Ali, Indonesian Merri Utami and Nigerian Humphrey Jefferson.
But Muhammad Rum, a spokesman for Indonesia’s attorney-general, said the executions are the “implementation of our positive laws” and will not be delayed or stopped. All the cases have gone through a long legal process including appeals, he said. “They all have been given chances at all stages.” The foreign ministry also defended the use of capital punishment and the legal process.
In Cilacap, the sister-in-law of Michael Titus, a Nigerian sentenced to death, said his Indonesian wife was returning to Indonesia from West Africa in the hope she would be able to see him a final time. “We will keep fighting to seek justice for our family,” said the relative, Nila, who used one name. “Michael is not alone. He has a wife, kids.”
READ MORE: Indonesia executes 8 for drug offences, leading to international outrage
From Pakistan, a sister of Ali made an emotional appeal to the Indonesian authorities to review his case. Family members said the Indonesian government had arranged a final meeting between Ali and his wife and mother, who travelled to Indonesia.
“My brother is not a drug smuggler. I swear he is innocent,” said Sajida Bibi. “I want to see my brother alive,” she sobbed. “Don’t send his body to us.”
Justice Project Pakistan, a group that provides free legal representation, said Ali’s confession following his arrest in November 2004 was obtained by police torture. It said his case has not been properly reviewed by Indonesian authorities despite an internal government investigation casting doubt on the conviction for drug trafficking.
The Indonesian government says the death penalty is necessary for drug crimes because the country is facing a drug epidemic, particularly affecting young people. But critics argue capital punishment is not an effective deterrent and some have also questioned the accuracy of the government’s drug abuse statistics.
It would be the third set of executions under President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who campaigned on promises to improve human rights. His 2-year-old administration will have executed more people than were executed in the previous decade. Fourteen were put to death last year.
READ MORE: Indonesia ignores protests, approves executions of 9 foreigners
Cap. Bintoro Wasono, a Cilacap police spokesman, said two burial sites, one for Muslims and the other for Christians, have been prepared for inmates whose bodies would not be taken by their families.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement he’s “deeply concerned” by death penalty cases in Indonesia that lack transparency and compliance with the right to a fair trial, including the right to an appeal.
The EU called on Indonesia to “consider joining the wide community of over 140 states that have abolished the death penalty entirely or have adopted a moratorium.”
The government of Jokowi’s predecessor did not carry out executions between 2009 and 2012, but resumed them in 2013.
Worldwide, China is believed to the country with the highest number of executions but it does not release figures. Amnesty International estimates several thousand people are executed in China each year. Of the more than 1,600 publicly announced executions last year, Amnesty says nearly 90 per cent of them were in three countries: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran.
Wright reported from Jakarta. Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Ali Kotarumalos and Niniek Karmini in Jakarta contributed to this report.