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One dead, five missing after explosion, fire at Ottawa tanker-truck manufacturer


OTTAWA — One man is dead and five people are missing after an explosion at an Ottawa tanker-truck manufacturer Thursday.

Neil Greene, the owner and president at Eastway Tank Pump and Meter Ltd. said Friday he is "completely devastated."

"My heart goes out to their families, loved ones and to all of our employees who are reeling from this deep loss," Greene said in a written statement Friday morning.

The explosion happened around 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the business, which is located in an industrial area in Ottawa's south end.

Ottawa police confirmed Friday morning that one man sent to hospital in critical condition had died and that four men and one woman believed to be at work during the explosion remain unaccounted for.

"It's not believed that any survivors will be found," Ottawa police Insp. Frank D'Aoust said in a news conference outside the building site Friday morning.

Two other men were sent to hospital Thursday, and one remains there in serious but stable condition. The other has been released.

"We remain in close contact with investigators, and we will co-operate with authorities on all ensuing investigations," Greene said. "We want to get to the bottom of what happened."

D'Aoust said recovery efforts are underway and multiple investigations are starting, but the site is heavily damaged and investigations will take a while.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang and felt the ground shaking before seeing huge plumes of thick black smoke and flames shooting 15 metres into the air. 

Ottawa City Coun. Tim Tierney was at a city salt yard next door when it happened.

"I was walking back to my vehicle and then I felt like an earthquake but then I heard a large bang, like it was like delayed after the earthquake," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Tierney said he was told one of the injured was flown to Toronto to be treated for burns.

"When you see smoke going that high, clearly, you know that it's going to be a devastating result," he said.

The Office of the Fire Marshal is the lead investigator to determine the origin and cause of the explosion and has already sent investigators to the scene.

The arson unit is leading the investigation for Ottawa Police Services and will also investigate for the coroner's office. The provincial Ministry of Labour will conduct a parallel workplace investigation.

Eastway Tank's website says it has operated since 1968 as a custom manufacturer for tanker trucks hauling liquids, including water and fuels.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2022.

— with files from Laura Osman.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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