August 10, 2008

Toronto Explosion Forces 1-Mile Radius Evacuation, CBC Says

by Hugo Miller

Aug. 10 (Bloomberg) -- An explosion at a propane depot in North Toronto heard as far as 7 kilometers (4.4 miles) away has forced the evacuation of an area a mile around the site of the accident, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

At least two people have been injured as the explosion blew out windows of homes nearby and sent plumes of smoke hundreds of meters into the air, the CBC reported, citing local police.

The explosion occurred at the Sunrise Propane depot near Keele and Wilson avenues shortly before 4 a.m. local time, the CBC reported. More than 100 firefighters called to the fire are focused on cooling two propane tankers to avoid further explosions, according to the CBC.

A 20-kilometer stretch of Highway 401, Canada's busiest highway, in north Toronto has been closed as a precaution, television news channel CP 24 reported, citing the Ontario Provincial Police.

Residents flee Toronto explosion

Salvation Army volunteers hand out refreshments to Toronto residents forced to flee their homes after explosions at a propane facility.
Residents were immediately bussed out the area

Thousands of people have been evacuated following an explosion at a propane gas plant in the north of the Canadian city of Toronto.

A two-mile (3.2km) exclusion zone was set up and police ordered residents of the Keele and Wilson areas to leave their homes.

The series of explosions at 0350 local time (0850 BST) on Sunday also shut down one the city's busiest highways.

Police say no-one was seriously injured in the incident.

Witnesses described the sky lighting up in the glow of an enormous fireball before turning black with smoke, and some residents said the blast caused their houses to rock.

"It was just a tremendous explosion and blew all the windows out of the house. I just managed to get out of there in time," local resident Robert Helman told the Associated Press news agency.

Firefighters battled the blazes at the Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases facility for several hours.

Toronto fire services division commander Bob O'Hallarn said that firefighters were close to extinguishing all the burning tanks, significantly reducing the risk of another explosion.

"I think we were very lucky," he said. "There was a very large of amount of fire when we arrived. It could have been much more serious."

Mr O'Hallarn said he saw at least five badly damaged houses, adding that it could be hours before residents are allowed back to their homes.

No comments: