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Propane transfer led to fire & explosions in Brampton

One man is in hospital after a fire at a propane facility in Brampton on May 7, 2014. CITYNEWS.

A propane transfer that led to a fire and subsequent explosion at a Brampton facility on Wednesday night could have been a lot worse.

“It would have been catastrophic and exponential” if that large tank exploded, Brampton Fire’s acting division chief Gary Jarrett said Thursday.

“A small tank, of three to four gallons, could level a home. We’re talking 18,000 gallons. It could have leveled the block,” he said.

The nearest homes are about half a kilometre away but a lot of people work in this industrial area and GO trains run on the CN rail tracks right behind the propane plant.

He gave credit to fire crews who doused water on the tank to protect it from the flames and keep the internal temperature as low as possible.

Firefighters kept a steady flow of water going over the top of the big tank, keeping it cool and protecting it from flames until it cut be shut off.

Viewer Chris Walter took this amateur video of a fire burning at a Brampton propane facility. Discretion is advised. We’re always looking for your photos and video — click here to send them to us.

One man, the employee who was moving the propane from a massive 18,000-gallon tank to smaller containers, suffered minor burns and is now out of the hospital.

The fire began in a shed where propane was being transferred behind an industrial plant on Steeles Avenue near Bramalea Road around 9:30 p.m. At first, smaller canisters set off powerful explosions and then flames surrounded a massive propane tank.

The fire then spread to Air Liquide, a French multinational company which supplies industrial gases and services to various industries including medical, chemical and electronic manufacturers.

The two-alarm fire sent fireballs into the air and lasted for several hours.

Roads in the area were shut down until about 1 a.m. on Thursday and the nearby CN Rail tracks didn’t reopen until about 3:40 a.m.

In 2008, an employee of Toronto’s Sunrise Propane was killed in a tank-to-tank propane transfer. The Ontario Fire Marshal found that in Sunrise’s case, that type of transfer was illegal since company didn’t have a licence to do it. Parminder Saini, 25, died on Aug. 10, 2008. Firefighter Bob Leek, 55, suffered a heart attack after responding to the emergency on his day off. Criminal sentencing will begin in October for the company and its two directors, Shay Ben-Moshe and Valery Belahov. They were found guilty in June of nine provincial offences.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the large tank was 30,000 gallons. It is 18,000 gallons.