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A restless night PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pete Kloppenburg   
Sunday, 10 August 2008 12:50

Early this morning, Camille and I were awakened by a loud noise. No big deal, think we, it must be thunder. We had had a thunderstorm early in the evening, and this summer it certainly hasn't been unusual to be awakened by the weather.

When the next explosion hit, we were fully awake, and we knew it wasn't thunder.



It didn't quite sound like thunder - there was no long rolling coda to the first burst of noise, and it didn't have the low visceral sub-woofer punch that thunder normally packs. What's more, there was a fairly regular booming after - not echoes, but just lesser bursts. We had never heard anything like it, and could not for the life of us figure out what was happening.

It sounded like nothing so much as being shelled. Not that either of us have been shelled before, but we watch enough war movies.

When the next big one hit, we were on our feet and at the window. We couldn't see anything - it turns out, if our window had been facing north, we might have. We pop on the radio, but of course the CBC had only it's overnight international radio programming on. We turned to 680 News, which soon enough reported that there were a lot of sleepless and puzzled people in the north west end of Toronto. No news there - we could see the lights of our neighbours pop on as they did exactly what we were doing.

Then I, with the naive hope that somehow the Internet would have the answer (should I Google it? Wikipedia, maybe?) went and powered up the Mac. The CBC did not have anything on the news, and really, this was only a few minutes after we were woken up by the first explosion; even the MotherCorp isn't that good. But what they did have, on their Toronto News page, were their usual traffic camera feeds from the Ministry of Transportation. 680 News was now reporting that the epicenter of these explosions was in the Keele and Wilson area, though they also talked about reports from as far east as Allen Road. So we looked at the traffic cameras, and the ones by Dufferin and Allen along the 401 were focused on a conflagration in the distance. Oddly enough, the closest one at Keele was minding its business and doing its job, showing the traffic on the highway stopped dead.

Had I been thinking more like a journalist, I would have grabbed some stills from the traffic cams to post here. Doh! Oh well, next time explosions rock my neighbourhood, I will remember to grab supporting photos for my web site.

Now in the calm light of morning the CBC tells me that what we were hearing was a propane depot going up in flames, which makes perfect sense. The big explosions would have been the large tanks, and the "little" ones would have been the individual BBQ tanks popping off like bubble wrap under your thumb.

Of course, eventually (well, pretty damned soon, I think) the Internet rose to the challenge, and YouTube had more film like the one at the top. This one has annotations and a running commentary. Fast forward to 1:50 for the big one. Listen to the reaction on the street. Clearly there were a lot of folks out on their balconies watching this. When the big one first begins, at first you can hear ohs and ahs, like it was a particularly expensive fireworks show. Then as the fireball grows to what I will guess is hundreds of feet in the air, the screams sound a bit more like terror.


Last Updated on Sunday, 10 August 2008 13:58