Explosion at Superior Propane in south end of Barrie, Ont., forces evacuation

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BARRIE, ONT. —
Emergency crews evacuated an area in the south end of Barrie, Ont., around 2 p.m. Friday to deal with explosions and a fire at a propane facility.

Barrie Fire was called to Bayview Drive, south of Mapleview Drive and east of Highway 400, as flames and dense, black smoke filled the air above Superior Propane on Bayview Drive.

“The main concern at the time was the report of two large, 30,000-gallon propane tanks with flame impingement,” said Barrie Deputy Fire Chief Ed Davis.

Davis said the emergency shut-off was hit “almost immediately,” which prevented any further propane from going into the filling station inside the building.

Police immediately evacuated a one-kilometre radius in all directions in the area of Lockhart Road and Bayview Drive as a precaution.

Residents reported hearing a loud explosion followed closely by sirens from emergency crews.

“It sounded like a bomb,” said Traci Dixon, who was in the Walmart parking lot at the time, just north of Superior Propane.

Davis said the explosions were likely from smaller barbecue-sized propane tanks and not the larger, more dangerous tanks.

“There was some discolouration on the tanks. Some paint flaking, but there wasn’t enough heat to generate an explosion on those tanks at that time,” the deputy fire chief said. “That’s why it was important to put a large volume of water on those tanks.”

Davis said crews managed to get enough water to cool the tanks quickly to avoid disaster. “When they explode, they do go off like missiles.”

By around 3 p.m., officials said the fire was under control. Still, Davis said police would continue to hold the area until crews were “satisfied” there wouldn’t be any further incidents.

Two Barrie Transit buses were called in to help evacuate those in the area.

No one was injured.

The Ontario Fire Marshal’s office has assigned investigators to work with local authorities to determine the cause of the fire.

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