By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
One person is dead and five others are missing after an explosion rocked Merivale Road Thursday Afternoon.
At around 1:30 pm on Jan. 13, Ottawa fire received multiple calls of a suspected explosion at a business at 1995 Merivale road. A google search for the address lists Eastway Tank Pump & Meter Ltd., a manufacturer for custom tank trucks.
Upon arrival, 50 foot high flames were visible, along with heavy smoke which could be seen from Barrhaven. Those who were in the area at the time reported a large explosion sound.
It took hours to battle the blaze and Merivale Road was closed for hours as a result. Three people were taken to hospital — at least one by air ambulance — and one person later succumbed to their injuries.
Ottawa Police said Friday morning that one man is still in hospital with serious injuries, but is in stable condition, and another has been released.
Another five people who are missing are feared to be dead.
“Five people continue to be unaccounted for and are missing. It is believed these individuals, four men and one woman, were at the building when the explosion occurred. Their identities will not be released at this time,” Ottawa Police said in a statement. “The families and loved ones of those individuals have been notified and are being supported by victim supports and investigators.”
A reunification centre was set up at the Woodvale Pentecostal Church on Greenbank Road to reunite workers with their families.
Recovery and investigative efforts are now underway, but the fire burned hot and little is left of the building.
The investigation will include many agencies, but will be led by the Ottawa Police Arson Unit. The provinces fire marshal will determine the cause of the fire and explosion. The Ministry of Labour will conduct a parallel investigation.
Air quality samples are also being taken.
On Friday morning, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson offered words of support to those impacted.
I want to offer my deepest condolences to the family of the employee who has passed away as a result of the horiffic fire yesterday in Nepean. I also ask all residents to pray for the families of the 5 employees who are unaccounted for,” he said on Twitter. “No words can take away the stress and devastation as these people await news about their relatives and friends. My sincere thanks to our first responders for their tremendous efforts to save lives and contain the fire under very difficult conditions.”