One dead, 5 missing and presumed killed after Merivale Road blast
One person has died and five others are missing after an explosion in a building in south Ottawa on Thursday.
The explosion and major fire at the Eastway Reservoir on Merivale Road sent three people to hospital, two of them in critical condition. One of those people has since died, police said on Friday morning.
Police say four men and a woman are still missing. They are believed to have been in the building when the explosion occurred.
Police do not reveal their identity, but say their families have been notified.
“It is not believed that any survivors will be found,” said Insp. Frank D’Aoust told reporters on Friday.
Family members have publicly identified one of the victims of the tragedy – Rick Bastien of Luskville, Quebec.
“As I sit here and think about all the things he said to me, all the things we did, I have so many regrets that there weren’t more.” , Josh Bastien said in a Facebook post. Josh Bastien is the son of Rick Bastien.
“Right now I’m overwhelmed with emotions, emotions that I’ve never felt before.”
Bastien added to the statement on Friday afternoon, saying, “My dad was one of a kind… the hardest working guy I’ve ever known.”
Rick Bastien’s Facebook page indicates that he was a welder/fabricator/mechanic at Eastway Tank.
Recovery efforts are underway at the heavily damaged site, he said, along with an investigation into the causes of the explosion and fire.
Eastway Tank Pump & Meter Ltd. is a custom manufacturer of tank trucks for the North American and international markets.
Neil Greene, owner and chairman of the family business, said he was “completely devastated”.
“It is with great sadness that we learned that one of our colleagues died as a result of the tragic explosion, along with five others missing and one in hospital. My hearts go out to their families, loved ones and all of our employees who are in shock at this profound loss, ”he said in a statement Friday.
“We remain in close contact with investigators and will cooperate with authorities in any subsequent investigations. We want to shed light on what happened.
“I am completely devastated. To the families of our departed colleague and to all of our employees, please know that Eastway Tank will be there for you without fail in the weeks and months to come. My deepest condolences to you all.”
The company was established in 1968. Their product lines include oil trucks and trailers, tankers, military refuellers and fire trucks, according to the company’s LinkedIn page.
The tankers they produce and service are used to transport gas, diesel, propane and water.
On Thursday evening, police told all employees and families to come to a “reunification centre” at Woodvale Pentecostal Church on Greenbank Road. Family members could be seen comforting each other outside.
Emergency services remained at the scene on Friday. The Ottawa Police Arson Unit, the Ministry of Labor, the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal and the Coroner’s Office are all investigating.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson tweeted his “deepest condolences” to the family of the deceased employee and called on residents to pray for the families of the five missing employees.
“No words can take away the stress and devastation as these people await news from their relatives and friends,” Watson tweeted. “My sincere thanks to our first responders for their tremendous efforts to save lives and contain the fire under very difficult conditions.”
“I thought it was an earthquake”
Flames and black smoke could be seen coming from the Merivale Road commercial building around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Ottawa fire officials said 911 callers said they heard an explosion before seeing 15-meter flames pierce the roof of a structure.
Com. Tim Tierney said he was visiting a City of Ottawa facility a few feet from the building when the fire broke out.
“Actually, at first I thought it was an earthquake. The ground was shaking, then suddenly, a few seconds later, suddenly I heard the bang,” Tierney told Newstalk 580 CFRA. Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron.
Three people in the building at the time were taken to hospital. One has since been released from hospital and the other is in serious but stable condition, police said on Friday. A firefighter was also treated for minor injuries.
Crews brought heavy equipment Thursday night to help put out the blaze. Acting Ottawa Fire Department chief Paul Hutt said there was no danger to residents of the area.
“As we put out the fire there is a water runoff that occurs because we are putting water on the fire. I want to assure residents that there is no concern – we have our HAZMAT team on site, ”Hutt said Thursday.
Ottawa County Keith Egli, who represents the region, said the city is thinking of the families, friends and colleagues of the victims.
“We are coming together as a city, we are a strong city and a united city, so I hope all these people know what we think of them, we pray for them while they go through this”, a- he declared.
“I hear a loud bang”
Witnesses reported hearing a loud “bang” before the fire started.
“I was serving a client, I was just finishing with her and I hear a loud bang. Next thing I know is there’s a really big cloud of black smoke,” said Jesse Headland, who works at the nearby Francis Gas Bar.
“It goes ‘yay-high’ and finally I see flames hiding behind the truck. Probably the biggest thing I’ve seen in my nine years working here.”
Amanda Fung is the owner of the Chinese restaurant Country Place near the fire scene.
“I’m sitting eating my lunch and smelling smoke. When I went outside to look through the window outside, I saw a lot of big flames.”
Sean McKenny, president of the Ottawa and District Labor Council, said his focus for now is on workers and their families.
“Something has gone wrong here, and that’s a question that I know will come up tomorrow and the day after,” he said. “Right now, our focus is certainly on the workers and their families who have been impacted and affected as a result of this terrible tragedy.”
– with files from Tyler Fleming, Katie Griffin, Leah Larocque and Jackie Perez, CTV News Ottawa