Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Explosion 28th May 1958 Corner Bannantyne & Allard


I found the Guardian article dated May 29th 1958 concerning the gas explosion at the corner of Bannantyne & Allard which follows in it's entirety: 





            Experts today are probing for the cause of one of the worst explosion in the history of Verdun, which burst upon residents yesterday afternoon, as a duplex on the corner of Bannantyane avenue and Allard street erupted with a blast that could be heard over the entire West End of the city.       Four persons, all in the building when the blast occured were taken to Verdun General Hospital after police and firemen pulled them form beneath the debris. One of the casulties, A. Boisclair, of 6200 Bannantyne, still remains in critical condition in hospital.

            Others injured were Rolland Loiseau age 28, 1208 Stephens St. who was working in his office, Loiseau Realties, in the downstairs corner flat; Alexandre Dulude, age 62, 6237 Bannantyne, also in the Realty office; Paul Émile Messier, age 42, 72 Lafleur St., Ville LaSalle, who was delivering mail in the building. Mrs William Lippiath, who occupies an adjoining flat at 6204 Bannantyne, fainted in the arms of Const. A. Simoneau when she feared her daughter was in the house. She was also taken in the Verdun General Hospital and treated for nervous shock, then taken to relatives. Dr A. Coutu,, chief surgeon in emergency ward, treated all the casualties.


                                    FIRE TRUCKS ARRIVE

            The alarm was set off at 3 pm by Const. C. Noël and within minutes three fire trucks were on the scene. Detective Lieut. Jim Martin of the Verdun force was on hand to direct the operation. Only a small fire blasted in the wreckage, and firemen extinguished it promply. They continued to pour water on the smouldeiring ruins to prevent fire from breaking out.

            First policemen to arrive on the scene were Constable W. Daniels, A. Simoneau and G. Bonin. They immediately set to work searching the debris. More police, firemen and volunteer workers arrived shortly to dig out the injured. Three Woodland ambulancees were called in.

                                    INJURED FOUND

            Within 10 minutes, Loiseau was found under planks, plaster and crumbled furniture. He was placed on a stretcher, and rushed to hospital. He was severely battered with lacerations to his face and body. He was x-rayed for a possible head concussion,

            Next person to be pulled form the debris was Dulude at about 3.30 pm. He was found under the wreckage in front of the building, where the blast had knocked out the front wall. He was burned about the arms and legs, but x-rays revealed no serious internal injury.

            Messier was found near Dulude shortly after. He was treated in hospital for an injury to the top of his head, as well as body lacerations. Dr Coutu found other injuries, Boisclair was the last to be located. He was pulled from the wreakage in the rear of the second sttory flat abou 4 pm. He was severely battered and bruised and suffered serious second degree burns. Dr Coutu was unable to determine the severity of the internal injuries. A priest was on hand to give  him the last rites of the church when he was taken from the ruins.

            The Quebec Natural GAs Corp. arrived promptly to check the gas intallations in the blasted building, and also to check installations in the neighborhood. Ken Lucas, vice-president of the coorporation, said it could not yet be determined wether gas fumes were responsible for the explosion.  The firm is conducting a thorough investigation.


                                    GREAT FLASH

            Neighbors said the first thing they saw was a great flash - then the shattering blast was heard and parts of the building flew in every directions. The debris was falling like rain, remarked on of the nerve shattered viewers. For nearly half a block in all directions, windows were shattered and nearby dwellings were ruined inside.

            Mrs F. Thompson, who lives directly across the street, at 6696 Bannantyne, said her home was filled with smoke after the blast. All her windows were blown out and much of her furniture was demolished.

            Jay's Handy store, across the street on the opposite corner, was only slightly damaged, The front windows were destroyed but nothing in the store was harmed. Four customers were in the store when the nearby building erupted, but non suffered anything, but shattered nerves.

Mrs A. Farnham, at 6203 Bannantyne said she thought an airplane had craashed on her home "a few windows were shattered" she said, "and pieces of wood flew right onto my balcony. The house was  shaking so much I was absolutely terrified".

                                    WINDOWS BLOWN OUT

            The barbershop adjoining the demolished block was damaged considerably.  All the windows

were blown out, the plaster cracked at the ceiling and the foundation weakened. Proprietor P. Soucy said he was sitting on the front balcony when he was shattered by the blast." As soon sa i could gain my senses, I grabbed my wife by the hand and we scuttled across the street as fast as we could. I was afraid of falling bricks, or that the place would explode again."

            Mrs R. Henry who lives in the house neighboring the realty from Allard avenue was actually "saved by a rotten apple", as one of her friends noted. "I had been sitting on the balcony and I decided to go back in the house to throw away the rotten apple I had chosen to eat." Mrs Henry said.

            Just as she got in the house, the neighboring duplex exploded. The door to her balcony flew off and pieces of it went through the chair she had been in only a moment before. Mrs Ernest Mills, several doors away at 6146 Bannantyne, said she thought a plane had crashed in her back yard "Im still frightened to death" she said over an hour after the explosion.

            Verdun police are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion. They believe it originated in the dodwnstairs flat occupied by the realty firm. Traffic was jammed in the blast ares late last nite, as debris still littered the streets as incredulous spectators lingered at the scene

ARCHIVES SHGV (13 Mars 2012)




Les F said...

This must be the explosion that was later determined to have been caused by the postman ringing the doorbell,& the spark set off the blast.....at least I remember hearing a story similar to that,whether that was true or not I don't know. but it was suggested that someone in the building turned on the gas to knock himself off,but didn't count on an external source igniting the gas...
Perhaps in a Guardian from some days later may reveal if that was the story ? Let us know Guy,...........

Guy Billard said...

I also have the Messager article of the 29th of may 1958, wich confirms that it was in fact a suicide attempt by André Boisclair, 40 years old, 6202 Bannantyne, who signed a declaration admitting his suicide attempt.


Les F said...

Well Then,,,,,Case Closed.....lol Cheers ! Guy,.....HF&RV - Les