Residents in St. Albert, Ontario are being urged not to consume village water because of possible groundwater contamination.

There's a concern that ground wells may contain toxins originating in water used to put out the devastating Sunday morning fire at the village's cheese factory.

"Fire water typically contains combustible material, by-products, chemicals that could be toxic, "explained Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health for Eastern Ontario. "We could not guarantee there was no spillover or seepage...into the underwater river terrain that has the groundwater where people drink from."

As a precaution, a water advisory is in effect until further notice.

On Sunday, flames ripped through the cheese factory in the village, destroying the building.

The Canadian Red Cross is in the village of 600 people to help distribute potable water.

The organization says the advisory could last up to five days.

During that time, residents are being warned not to drink the water; cook with it or wash fruits and vegetables; use it to brush teeth, or for baths and showers.

People are also being told to avoid using the water for dishes or laundry.

Nation Township Mayor Francois St. Amour says residents in the small community are coping the best they can.

"They seem to understand the position we’re in," St. Amour said. " I’m not saying they like it, but the more information we give them, the more they understand."

Arrangements have been made for residents to be able to take showers int he nearby village of Casselman.

Boiling water is not advised, as it won't remove chemicals that may have contaminated the water.

Dr. Roumeliotis says the water is being tested. It will take several days for final results.


With files from CTV's Claudia Cautillo