2008 Toronto Propane Explosion

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At approximately 03:50 ET on the morning of August 10, 2008, a large explosion occurred at Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases, located near Murray Road and Spalding Road. This was followed by a series of explosions which sent large fireballs and clouds of smoke billowing into the sky. Large pieces of metal from the exploding propane tanks were projected onto nearby streets and properties. Many homes and offices were damaged, windows were shattered, and doors were ripped from their hinges. About 200 firefighters battled the 5 alarm fire that resulted from the explosions. The threat of further blasts and concerns about the air quality forced the police to conduct a voluntary evacuation of a large area in the surrounding community. Residents living within a 1.6-kilometre radius were asked to leave their homes in the early hours of the morning.Toronto Transit Commission buses were used to evacuate them to Downsview Park and then to York University. The explosions rocked the area and also caused the closure of part of Highway 401, between highways 404 and 400 for over 12 hours. Emergency crews feared another major explosion as two rail tankers continued to burn more than five hours after the initial explosion. Regular commercial air traffic was allowed to continue in and out of Pearson International Airport while smaller, privately owned aircraft were restricted from flying over the area. Six people were sent to the hospital, 18 people admitted themselves to emergency clinics, and Emergency Medical Services treated 40 people on the site. During the course of the emergency response to the scene, a Toronto firefighter was found lifeless by emergency crews. Paramedics and firefighters tried to revive him but were unsuccessful. He was then rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The firefighter was identified as Bob Leek, a 55-year-old district chief of emergency planning and a 25-year veteran. Parminder Saini, a Sunrise employee was unaccounted for, and on August 11, a body was found at the scene. On September 3, the body was confirmed to be that of Saini. The Ontario Fire Marshal's Office is handling the investigation of the explosions. While the cause of the explosions has not yet been determined, on August 21, 2008, Ontario's independent safety regulator for fuels, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, released a statement saying that just before the explosion, a truck driver was illegally transferring propane from one truck to another, which is prohibited in Ontario because it increases the risk of a gas leak or fire. The agency also reported that in November 2006, Sunrise Propane was warned about its lack of safety by not stopping the truck-to-truck transfers at the company's facilities, and that truck-to-truck transfers were a frequent and routine operating practice at the facility. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]

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