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Toronto Propane Explosion – Eight Years Later

The Toronto Propane Explosion took place on August 10, 2008 in North York, Toronto. It took the life of one of the Sunrise Propane Industrial employees as well as the lives of one of the firefighters on the scene. Thousands were forced to evacuate their home. It cost almost 2 million dollars to clean up and half of that was taken from the province itself.  

So who is Sunrise Propane Industrial? This the plant where the  Toronto propane explosion happened.  This was the  company that sold propane for home and commercial use. The funny thing is if you trace the companies history you will find that they’ve operated under different names in the past. Allegedly, they always had trouble with safety standard and they always had problems with settling debt as well. The company was apparently warned before the incident about their lack of technical safety standards. There is a specific standard that is regularly enforced in Ontario of no truck-to-truck transfers. They are specifically prohibited because they increase the risk of gas leaks and fires. Allegedly they were warned that they needed to stop truck-to-truck transfers. 

If you look at the incident investigation you will find that they confirmed that there was a large amount of truck-to-truck transfers going on at the facility prior to the explosion. This is definitely what helped spread the chain of explosions. You hear many people complaining about being forced to follow necessarily stringent safety and environmental cues from the government, but it is incidents like this that show they are well worth it.  

Numerous houses were damaged. The propane tank explosions shot chunks of metal into the streets. Fireballs were shooting into the sky. Six people went to the hospital, 40 to emergency clinics, 80 received on site treatment. Even highway 401 was shut down for over 12 hours.  

We have to give great thanks and much appreciation to the local firemen. Over 200 showed up to the 5am alarm call to help out. They weren’t all on duty and worked effortlessly to stop the fire. If it were not for them, who know how much farther the damage would spread.  

One particular firefighter named Bob Leek is a particular Hero who needs to be noted. He was off duty that night and was asked if he could bring some equipment to aid his fellow firefighters who were on the scene. He didn’t have to. He chose to help. It was his decision. Just like it was Sunrise Propane’s decision to forgo their standard of safety. He was chief of emergency planning and a 25-year veteran of the force who had already paid his dues to society. He suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead the next day. He didn’t need to die. If others were willing to follow the standards set by the people for the intent of the safety of the people, then Bob Leek wouldn’t have died that night.  

The Toronto Propane Explosion could have been worse. It’s a shocking reminder of how the city needs to pull together in times of need. It’s a shocking reminder that some of us are unwilling to cooperate with the rest of us. The explosion also took a life of one of their own employees. Many suffered financial damages and several people had health problems from the smoke. None of this needed to happen.