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1 dead, 5 missing and presumed dead in explosion and fire in Ottawa

Ottawa Police said one person died and five others were missing after Thursday’s explosion and fire at a business on Merivale Road.

The five missing are presumed dead.

Firefighters received several 911 calls Thursday around 1:30 p.m. regarding a large fire at 1995 Merivale Rd. Between Cleopatra Drive and Slack Road in the Nepean area. Witnesses reported hearing loud bangs coming from the site.

Insp. Frank D’Aoust said on Friday that one of those taken to hospital died on Friday morning, another was in serious and stable condition and a third had been released.

He said four men and a woman who police said were in the building at the time of the explosion are missing and police do not believe they survived. No name has been disclosed.

WATCH | Major fire, explosion in Ottawa:

Video shows column of smoke from explosion and fire on Merivale Road

Ottawa firefighters said they were fighting a three-alarm fire on Merivale Road in Nepean Thursday afternoon. 0:28

When firefighters arrived in the burning building on Thursday afternoon, employees had already started to exit.

Crews battling to bring the blaze under control have been told of the two patients taken to hospital with severe burns and five employees missing, according to firefighters with knowledge of the emergency who spoke to CBC News under the guise of anonymity because they were not allowed. to speak publicly.

A “family reunification center” was operating Thursday evening at the nearby Woodvale Pentecostal Church.

D’Aoust said friends and family of those missing had been informed and supported by police.

Acting Ottawa Fire Chief Paul Hutt said a regional distress line is taking calls and the mayor of Ottawa has asked residents to pray for the families of the missing.

Police said on Friday the fire was in a business.

The address is for Eastway Tank Pump & Meter Ltd., a manufacturer of custom tankers. Eastway did not return CBC calls.

Many sides to the investigation

Different agencies are conducting different parts of the investigation into what police have described as a badly damaged site that will take time to review.

The province’s fire marshal is taking the lead in determining the cause of the explosion and fire, according to a police press release.

The Ottawa Police Arson Unit is leading the police investigation, D’Aoust said, and is acting for the coroner’s office.

Officials did not respond to questions, so it is not clear whether arson is suspected or whether this unit is chosen to lead because of its expertise in investigating the fires.

Firefighters said they took air quality samples and collected any contaminated water that leaked from the scene of the blaze. They will continue to provide logistical and security support, police said.

The ministries of environment and labor were also called on the spot.