Toxic smoke billows from fire at US-owned Riga drone plant
A fire broke out at a drone production plant on the outskirts of Riga Tuesday afternoon, Latvian public broadcaster LSM reports, leading to a plume of potentially toxic smoke spreading in the surrounding area.
Footage of the blaze, at the Edge Autonomous plant in Marupe, to the southwest of the Lativan capital and close to the airport, was placed on social media by numerous members of the public, while nearby residents were advised to close their windows as smoke billowed from the conflagration.
The facility appeared to have been completely gutted by the fire (see tweet below).
Edge Autonomous is a U.S.-owned firm which has supplied unmanned aerial vehicles to Ukraine in recent weeks, and last October the Marupe facility was visited by a U.S. congressional delegation, LSM reports on its English-language page.
The Latvian state fire service said that as of 8 p.m. Tuesday the smoke had abated "significantly", while absorbent pads had been placed in nearby culverts in an effort to reduce any potential contamination, LSM reports.
Massive fire at the factory that produces drones for Ukraine in the EU— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) February 7, 2023
The factory of the Edge Autonomy company that produces unmanned aerial vehicles in Marupe, Latvia, has been damaged. The cause of the fire is unknown. The investigation is underway.
LTV Ziņu Dienests pic.twitter.com/EWMzT9L2mW
While operations at the nearby Riga Airport were not affected by the fire, the airport did also send firefighters to help in extinguishing it, while municipal police officers put traffic controls in place in the area.
The public were advised to stay away from the vicinity of the plant.
Two people were also hospitalized as a result of the fire, while one other person received on-site medical treatment, LSM says.
Authorities in Latvia are set to investigate the cause of the fire, which as yet is undetermined, though a police spokesperson ruled out arson, based on initial information received.
Edge Autonomy, formerly Jennings Aeronautics, Inc., is headquartered in San Luis Obispo, California, and is a leading provider of autonomous systems, advanced optics, and resilient energy solutions, the company says on its website.
Its clients include the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Federal Civilian Agencies, allied governments, academic institutions, and commercial entities, the company says, while it employs over 300 people.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte