Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Two die in firework warehouse blast

Smoke billows from the BEM fireworks factory in Coteau du Lac, Quebec, following an explosion (AP/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)
The BEM fireworks factory in Coteau du Lac, Quebec, following an explosion (AP/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)

Two people have been killed in a massive explosion at a fireworks warehouse in Canada.

The blast, in an area west of Montreal, left a huge cloud of smoke visible for miles, Quebec provincial police said.

The initial explosion at BEM Fireworks near Valleyfield, Quebe, was followed by a series of other blasts.

Provincial police said two bodies were found in the charred wreckage of the building but did not identify them.

Nearly two hours after the blast, fireworks could still be heard exploding at the scene of the fire which continued to burn out of control hours after the explosion, according to witnesses.

"All of a sudden I heard 'boom, boom, bang'," said Mario Cramerstetter from his office, which is just over a mile away from the site. "Initially I thought it was a bulldozer or a tractor but then we saw a big puff of smoke. We kept on hearing popping, fireworks going off all the time."

Mr Cramerstetter said it appeared that a small building had caught fire first and then spread to a larger storage unit.

"We got really, really, really scared," said Ginette Liboiron, who runs a convenience store across a highway overpass. "I thought my store was falling to the ground. It shook like you can't imagine... We all went outside to see and saw the big, incredible smoke," she said. "It went high up in the air, then it became black, black, black."

Police ordered the evacuation of the surrounding community of Coteau-du-Lac. A nearby highway was also closed in both directions. Police also said low traces of metal materials were found in the surrounding area.

Video captured by a news helicopter showed fireworks igniting inside the remnants of the smouldering building. According to its website, BEM has been designing and manufacturing pyrotechnics and fireworks for 25 years.

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