MOUNT PEARL, N.L. – It was, says Stefania Butler, like a scene from a movie. First, a sudden, massive bang. Then, debris everywhere and the roof flew off the building across the street at Trimac National Tank Services.
“I was sitting here working away and all of a sudden the debris went,” Butler said Tuesday from Billard’s Trucking, across the street from Trimac in the St. John’s, N.L., suburb of Mount Pearl. “It was just like something you’d see in a movie. I was very surprised more people weren’t hurt.”
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said nine people were believed to be inside Trimac during the blast at 8:20 a.m. local time.
Const. Geoffrey Higdon said three people were taken to hospital, but he couldn’t speak to the nature of their injuries.
“When the explosion occurred, pieces of the building as well as articles from inside the building basically became projectiles across the property and into the parking lot,” said Higdon. “There’s a lot of damage to vehicles that were parked nearby. The building is pretty much totally damaged.”
Rick Dehann, acting deputy chief with the St. John’s Regional Fire Department, said the people taken to hospital were moving about when they arrived.
Acting platoon chief Scott Tilley said it appears the employees were working on a fuel tank that contained gasoline or a petroleum product and the fumes may be to blame for the explosion.
Brian Billard of Billard’s Trucking told VOCM Radio he was certain that everyone in the building was dead.
Damage is extensive due to the force of the combustion, but most of the vapour was consumed by the explosion, meaning there was little fire.
Mount Pearl Mayor Dave Aker said he lives about a kilometre from the Kyle Avenue business and felt his entire house shake.
“It was a little bit scary,” said Aker. “The sentiment that I’m hearing from the residents of Mount Pearl is that they’re concerned about the people that were working in the building or nearby. For the rest of us, it seems to have just been more of a scare from the vibration and shock of the explosion.”
Aker said the roof of the warehouse blew off, walls of the building were destroyed, insulation is littered around the area, and the remnants of a tank appear to have landed in the parking lot.
He said he believes the business repairs commercial gas and oil tanks.