Fallout from Toronto Propane Explosion Explosive-Intro

“IT WAS A TERROR FROM THE SKY”

At 3:49 a.m. on Sunday, August 10, this author was shaken awake from a heavy sleep. The photos hanging above my head banged against the wall. The windows in my bedroom shook. My bed swayed as if it were on an active fault line. It sounded like a long, rolling thunder overhead. Instead, little did I know at the time, that just 1.6 kilometres away a propane facility at Keele and Wilson in Toronto had burst into flames. The night sky was painted in orange, red and yellow flames. A massive fireball, almost A-bomb-like in its ferocity and image, stretched up into the sky, propelling parts of the Sunrise Propane facility all over the surrounding residential neighbourhood. It would take 35 hours for 140 firefighters to knock down the six-alarm fire. The bold quotes in this post are ones gathered during conversations and sitting in on a public meeting on August 14.

“WHEN THAT BLAST TOOK PLACE IT LOOKED LIKE BAGHDAD”

Five thousand homes were evacuated in the middle of the night, seniors, children, parents and pets headed for cover. Pieces of the facility rained down in a nearby graveyard, crushing headstones, smashing a bus shelter. Stores, schools, daycares and homes nearby had windows blown out. A 1.6 km evacuation zone was established, as fears of further propane tanks on site which had not gone off were steaming away.

“AFTER THAT FIREBALL CAME RIGHT AT ME, THOSE FIREFIGHTERS WERE EVACUATING US AND GOING TO THE FIRE TO PROTECT US, I THANK THEM SO MUCH.”

Since late afternoon on August 11, when the fire was finally knocked down, residents of the area have slowly been allowed to return to their homes. However, the wait and trauma from the night has left nerves frayed and anger boiling. What the residents have endured via the event and its aftermath has been disheartening. Poor communication on the part of the City of Toronto left too many people in the dark on a night when the night sky came alive with fire in Downsview. Six homes are still off limits.

“IT SOUNDED LIKE SOMEONE WAS KNOCKING AT MY FRONT DOOR BUT IT WAS THE PROPANE CANISTERS GOING OFF.”

Chunks of asbestos has rained down on some properties. Fears about what can be touched. Fears about who will pay for the damage. Fears of the propane facility being allowed to rise from the ashes have stirred intense emotions in the community. An employee at the facility died in the blast. A Toronto firefighter died while on scene fighting the fire. A resident died three days after the blast upon being allowed back home-the stress of the ordeal thought to be a factor.

“NONE OF YOU COULD IMAGINE WHAT WE SAW, WHAT THESE CHILDREN AND OLD PEOPLE SAW. IT WAS FIRE FALLING FROM THE SKY.”

Residents are looking for someone to be held accountable. The city’s zoning has come into question. The city says it is province that licenses such facilities. Finger-pointing and anger has ensued.

“A LOT OF US ARE UPSET AND STILL SHAKY. THE ANGER IS NOT PRODUCTIVE. OUR HOMES ARE STILL THERE AND WE ARE STILL STANDING. IT IS NOT A BAD THING- WE ARE ALIVE.”

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Fallout from Toronto Propane Explosion Explosive-Intro

  1. Grant

    According to Toronto’s mayor, David Miller: “The city does not give permission, does not license it and does not know if the facility has followed up with the province to achieve the licence.” And: “Zoning on this site was predated to amalgamation that does permit zoning of this kind of facility.” Furthermore, Miller says, due to amalgamation, Toronto remains saddled with a “zoning patchwork” that would result in inconsistent restrictions on where propane facilities could open. “Some parts of Toronto, this would be permitted, some it would not be.”

    The City of Toronto, like any other municipality, is supposed to ensure the public safety and well-being of all its residents. In the 10 years since amalgamation, it’s quite apparent that those in charge at City Hall have failed many of those residents miserably by not taking the time and effort to evaluate and consolidate the city’s “patchwork” of zoning bylaws. Mayor Miller can now lamely point the finger of guilt at the province all he wants, but, unless I’m mistaken, zoning falls under the jurisdiction of the city, not the province.

    That two people died as a direct result of this catastrophe – a third death possibly related to the sheer stress of it – is a tragedy. That many more weren’t killed or severely injured is a miracle. The residents of North York have suffered severe emotional trauma and possible health hazards, not to mention property damages, because of this horrific event. And they have just cause and reason to be extremely angry and frustrated with their municipal government officials for not only not protecting them from this disaster just waiting to happen, but also for not providing them with any concrete answers to the simple question – “WHY?”

    According to a 1991 report issued by Toronto’s Land Use Committee: “The safety of propane storage is especially significant to the City of Toronto because resident and working population densities are so high that any level of hazard is one that could affect hundreds of persons in a single incident.”

    So it was written … 17 long years ago.

  2. Mike Teters : Burn Victim Survivor

    I am Mike Teters and I was in a propane explosion on May 15, 2006. I had no insurance, due to a previous knee accident. I am now disabled and may be losing my home. I am setting up a website : http://www.miketeters.com or http://www.burnvictimsurvior.com. Here my story will be shared with all who are interested in learning about Burn Victims and not only what the victim will go through but the family will go through and also how it can burden you financially. Check it out if you have the time. Also there is a contact page where you can email/write questions or comments. Propane explosions are very scary. I will soon have up the story of the actual explosion. I am sorry to hear about the above deaths… thank you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s