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One dead, five missing after the Merivale Road explosion

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.

Recovery efforts are underway at the heavily damaged site, he said, along with an investigation into the causes of the explosion and fire.

Police were asking all employees and families on Thursday evening to attend a reunification center at the Woodvale Pentecostal Church on Greenbank Road. Family members could be seen comforting each other outside.

Emergency services remained on the scene Friday morning. 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.

“At first I thought it was an earthquake. The ground was shaking, then suddenly seconds later I suddenly hear the bang,” Tierney told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s 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.

According to the company’s website, Eastway Tank, Pump & Meter Ltd. is a custom manufacturer of tank trucks for the North American and international markets.

“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 skyrockets and I end up seeing flames hiding behind the truck. Probably the most important thing I have seen in my nine years of working here. “

Amanda Fung is the owner of the Chinese restaurant Country Place near the fire scene.

“I am sitting eating my lunch and I smell the smoke. When I went out to look out the window outside, I saw a lot of big flames.”

– with files from Tyler Fleming and Jackie Perez, CTV News Ottawa