Authorities say that two people who were in a vehicle that burst into flames at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing just before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning are dead. In an update Wednesday evening, New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul said there was no indication so far that the fatal vehicle explosion was an act of terror. The blast prompted the closure of all four international bridges between Canada and Western New York. The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, Peace Bridge, and Whirlpool Bridge reopened late Wednesday afternoon. The Rainbow Bridge remains closed. Hochul said the car, which was being driven by a local Western New Yorker, crashed into a customs and border patrol booth and the car and the booth immediately exploded. Hochul said the vehicle was almost entirely incinerated, with only parts of the engine left behind. At a news conference, Hocul said authorities were going to ensure the public is safe before they go back on the Rainbow Bridge, acknowledging the closures represented a “major disruption” for travel ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend.
In a social media post, the FBI Buffalo Field Office said it was investigating the situation, which it called “fluid.”A border officer was taken to hospital with minor injuries, but has since been released.
Niagara Falls, Ontario Mayor Jim Diodati said that what happened appeared to be “an isolated incident.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement saying provincial law enforcement was actively engaged in assessing the situation, and working with local law enforcement and providing support as required.
Earlier Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed the House of Commons that “additional measures” were being contemplated and activated” at all border crossings across the country. All security related organizations and departments on this side of the border reportedly met to discuss the incident, including the Canada Border Services Agency the RCMP and Trudeau’s national security and intelligence adviser, according to sources.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he thinks it’s important not to speculate or to exaggerate the circumstances, and it’s important to work with the Americans and to get reliable, verified information as their investigation continues.
The Buffalo Niagara International airport suspended international flights but later said on X that it was open and “fully operational.” The U.S. transportation agency, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, said it was “increasing security system-wide.” It said cars entering Buffalo’s airport will undergo security checks and travellers can “expect additional screenings.” Security was also stepped up at other Canadian border crossings.