1968 Junction explosions Boler St.,residents flee homes



The Canadian Liquid Air plant on Boler street which runs off Maria St, in the Toronto Junction erupted in a series of explosions in may of 1968.

Transcription of the May 28th 1968 Globe and Mail report

Explosions, fire rip Explosions, fire rip oxygen plant; residents of Boler St. flee homes; residents of Boler St. flee homes

A series of explosions ripped through a west-end oxygen plant yesterday, injuring two firemen and sending two more to hospital suffering smoke inhalation.                                                                               The explosions at the Canadian Liquid Air Ltd. plant on Boler Street sent workers running for their lives.                                                                  Half the plant was demolished in the fire, which was only a block from public housing on Maria Street.  Ward 7 ratepayers had sent a delegation to City Council in June 1965, warning against public housing in the area.                                                                                                         Herman Mulder, president of the Ward 7 Ratepayers and Businessmen’s Association, led the delegation to City Hall.  “We warned the city about the possibility of an explosion at the plant when they were considering putting up public housing on Maria Street.”                                     “Our pleas were in vain and the city went ahead and built the project anyway,” he said.                                                                                     Popping cylinders of acetylene in the shipping area of the plant yesterday sent balls of flame more than 100 feet high, blasting out windows of houses and scorching grass and shrubs on the opposite side of Boler Street.                                                                                                     Workers using small hand extinguishers tried to put out a roaring flame gushing from a blown safety valve on the main line from a large storage tank.  Escaping oxygen fed the blaze after the valve blew near an oil pump.                                                                                                          The flame spread to cylinders of acetylene loaded on two trucks in the loading area (Pictures on Page 5) and about a dozen of the 250 cubic-foot containers blew in quick succession.                                                    When the first tank blew, workmen dropped the extinguishers and ran.  One turned in the first alarm about 3:30 p.m.                                                 Second and third alarms were turned in as the exploding cylinders rocked the quiet street in the Dundas Street West-Runnymede Road area.                                                                                                              While firemen used two aerial ladders to pour water on two 100,00-cubic-foot tanks of liquid oxygen and liquid nitrogen, District Chief Thomas Stewart raced along the 100-yard-long street to warn homeowners to leave their houses.                                                                          A blast from one of exploding cylinders hurled Chief Stewart several yards onto the sidewalk.  He was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph’s Hospital with back injuries.                                                                        Owners of the 10 houses and two duplexes on the street joined hundreds of onlookers on nearby Maria Street.                                                         Two firemen were treated for smoke inhalation and a third fireman, Gordon Campbell, suffered leg and back injuries when he fell through a collapsing portion of the roof and dropped about 20 feet.                         A policeman escorting an ambulance taking Mr. Campbell to hospital was himself injured when his motorcycle slammed into the side of a car on Parkside Drive.                                                                                          Constable Gordon Pye, 23 suffered cuts and bruises and a broken right elbow in the crash.  He was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in another ambulance.                                                                                                 About 90 firemen using a dozen pumpers and other equipment brought the blaze under control in about an hour.                                      Firemen said that damage to the plant was $155,000 and damage to neighboring homes was estimated at $550.




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