Saturday, March 3, 2012

From the GAzette 47 years ago,the Lasalle Explosion of March 1st 1965

(From The Gazette, March 2, )

The two apartment blocks which adjoined the one in which 24 persons, including 14 children, lost their lives in yesterday's disastrous explosion at suburban LaSalle Heights, were ordered evacuated late last night.

The evacuation order was issued by LaSalle mayor, Dr. Lionel Boyer.

Mrs. Marguerite Wilson, of the Red Cross, said 160 blankets were rushed late last night to the suburb's Henri Foret school, 1000 Tresor Cashe St., where the occupants of the badly damaged dwellings were being sheltered.

At 10 p.m. yesterday Coroner Marcel Trahan issued the following names of person killed in the blast:

--Sharon Peard, 9, and a brother, Kevin, 2, both of 0365 Bergevin, Apt. 3.

--Brenda Czopco, 5, and a sister, Johanne, 7, both of 0365 Bergevin, Apt. 5.

--Marielle Quesnel, 33, 0367 Bergevin, Apt 5.

--Gail Sylvia, 10, address not yet determined.

--James Dyer, 35, a roomer at the Czopco apartment.

--Mrs. Nancy McGuigan, a daughter, 10, and a son, Gordon, 12, of 0365 Bergevin, Apt. 1.

--Jean Marc Thibeault, 51, and Mrs. Thibeault, 44, of 0365 Bergevin, Apt. 2.

--Anne-Marie Rahanck, 2, and a sister, Vera, 8, of 0367 Bergevin, Apt. 1.

--Mrs. Enna Arsenault, 50. --Sandra Dawson, 3.

--Mrs. Louise Bischoff, 44.

Both the Rahanck children died after being brought to St. Joseph's Hospital in Lachine.

Identification of other victims was expected early this morning.

Mayor Boyer, addressing a press conference in the temporary morgue at his city's civic centre two miles from the scene of the blast, said he asked the Quebec Natural Gas Corporation to make a complete check of heating systems in the sprawling, 24-building apartment development owned by LaSalle Heights "to prevent any similar occurrences."

He said the company apparently had been making only once-yearly checks and should be doing so every month. Immediately after the explosion, the company cut off the gas supply to 95 other apartment units in four buildings damaged in the blast.

People living in them had already moved out or were being asked to on a temporary basis.

Gas inspectors are provided by the Quebec Gas and Electricity Board. Quebec Natural Gas Corporation, through its public relations director, issued a flat "no comment" when questioned regarding the explosion at 11 p.m. yesterday.

Marcel Dame, assistant provincial director for Civil Defence, said gas "will not be turned back on until those responsible feel it is safe to do so." Mobile public address systems cruised the area asking residents to leave their homes and telling them of accommodation arranged in downtown hotels.

Preliminary autopsies have already been performed on some of the bodies removed from the disaster. It is feared some of the five persons still reported missing late last night had perished in the blast.

Rescue workers said fragments of bodies were being found in the crater.

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