Cause Currently Unknown
A LARGE EXPLOSION TRIGGERED SEVERAL smaller ka-booms and started a major fire at a Sherbrooke, Quebec, health products plant Thursday afternoon. So far two fatalities have been reported and at least 19 people have been injured, five of them seriously burned. There were about 65 people in the plant at the time.
The initial blast occurred around 1:30 pm and was heard for miles around. The emergency dispatch center set a local record for 9-1-1 calls, logging in more than 100 calles within the first minute. A fire station not far away felt the blast and saw the huge smoke plume, then self-dispatched to the scene.
The initial blast literally demolished a major portion of the Neptune Technologies and Bioresources plant. Canoe News tells: Officials said a fire ignited 15,000 litres of acetone, a common ingredient in cleaning agents and paint thinners. "The company does extraction with acetone, a highly flammable solvent," former plant employee Pascal Filion told QMI Agency. "A small spark can cause an explosion, it's like gasoline."
The blast was so powerful that walls collapsed and windows were blown out. By mid-afternoon, firefighters were busy looking for other possible victims, but the unstable state of the building slowed their work.
The fire was handled without any problem and was under control by 3:45, but the victim search was extensive. All afternoon a column of dark smoke rose from the smoldering fire, but the health authorities said that it was of no hazard.
There is no early determination of what caused the initial blast. Nobody outside the plant was injured from the incident.
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