I’ve been sitting here glued to the TV since about noon today. I’ve been watching news updates and footage of the massive explosions that rocked Toronto at approximately 3:50 am this morning. The explosions took place at the Sunrise Propane facility in Downsview.
I happened to be awake at the time of the blasts. I heard noises that I thought were either coming from upstairs or from my neighbors – they’d been moving all their packed boxes around to get ready for their contractor until 1 am this morning and definitely started up at 5 am again this morning … but I think the noises I heard were the blasts.
I mean, people in Aurora and Niagara on the Lake heard and saw the plume of flames from the eruption and I’m a lot closer to the explosion site than they are so that must be the noises I heard.
Major highways (401 from hwy 400 to Don Valley) are closed in and around the blast area. It’s the biggest road closure this city has ever seen! There are three or four festivals going on in Toronto this weekend (Taste of the Danforth, Beerlicious, and the Chinatown festival) and I’m sure that people going to those festivals as well as trying to travel around the city are being severely affected by the road closures. Subway stations, buses and even one major mall in the area (Yorkdale) were closed down as well.
I even heard that they made an area over the blast site a no fly zone. I’m not sure if that’s still in effect but it was for several hours. I’ll bet this might have even affected people trying to fly in and out of the city between the no fly zone and all the closed major traffic routes.
Approximately 12,000 people in a 1.6 km area near the blast site have been evacuated. This includes my ex-brother-in-law, niece and nephew. I’ve already offered up space in my home to them if they need a place to stay.
Homes and businesses close to the blast site had windows blown out, roofs collapsed, and more than likely there’s structural damage to thousands of buildings. People were knocked right out of their beds.
People witnessed the blast from as far away as Niagara on the Lake (1.5 hours from here) and Aurora (about 50 min drive from here). Some said they thought it was a dirty bomb or nuclear blast. Looking at the footage and photos I can understand why they felt that way as it really looks like a war scene. It reminds me of watching footage of scud missiles hitting targets in Iraq.
This is rated as a 6 alarm fire and the city has gone into emergency response. I’m sure if I was working in the ER today it would be crazy busy! Perhaps not busy due to those injured coming from the blast area, but from ambulances with other ill people being diverted to our hospital.
Surprisingly they aren’t reporting many injuries. News reports say only about 8 people have been taken to local hospitals for minor injuries like cuts and bruises. However one plant worker is missing. It’s believed he was the person who initially saw smoke coming from one of the tanks and called 911. Also, a firefighter was found without vital signs and it’s now been reported that he passed away. I’m not sure what injuries he suffered, perhaps he fell.
My husband also wrote about this massive explosion on his blog. In one post he has a Google map of the area affected by the blast. You might want to take a look at that to get a gist of the size of this! Toronto is the 5th or 6th largest city in North America and between the evacuated areas and major road closures a good portion of our city has been affected.
As I said the blast was from a propane facility. Initially there were evacuating people because they didn’t know if there were toxic chemicals in the air. I believe they now think that any toxic chemicals have burnt off and since propane dispels quickly they don’t think the air is toxic, but people are not allowed to return to their homes and businesses because they are still fighting the fires (trying to prevent a huge tanker full of liquid propane from exploding) and because buildings close to the blast might have major structural damage.
My heart goes out to all of those affected and or displaced by the explosion. If there’s anything I can do please let me know.
The photos that I used in this post were borrowed from the My News section of CTV.ca. You can visit that section of the news site to see more photos and videos sent in my area residents who witnessed the blasts.