Impact of explosion felt kilometres away after fatal Alberta welding shop blast

NISKU, Alta. — RCMP say one man is dead and another man is in hospital after an explosion and fire at a welding business just south of Edmonton.

The blast happened around 8:15 a.m. Thursday at Ja-Co Welding and Consulting Ltd., in the hamlet of Nisku.

Police said the deceased man, who was in his early 40s, was already dead when emergency crews arrived at the scene in the community’s industrial area. The second man was taken to an Edmonton hospital for treatment of serious injuries.

“A trauma injury from an explosion like this is never good,” said Leduc County fire Chief Keven Lefebvre, who noted that the blast within the business was extensive.

Lefebvre said he and his fellow firefighters were sitting in their office at the time, having coffee and discussing the day’s duties when they suddenly felt what he described as a “whump” hit their building.

“It actually opened the front door of the building a little bit. The size and dynamic of the explosion was interesting.”

The impact was also felt in the community of Beaumont, about 10 kilometres to the east.

Crews managed to contain the fire and no surrounding companies were threatened. Lefebvre said a decision was made to let burning acetylene tanks in the welding business vent their contents before crews moved in.

“Rather than put them out and let raw gas spew and create another fire source that would reignite, we just let them burn out.”

Alberta Occupational Health and Safety officials were expected at the scene.

This is the second fatal industrial accident in a little over a month in an area which acts as a base of operations for several energy sector companies.

Three men were killed Nov. 15 in nearby Leduc at Millennium Cryogenic Technologies, an oil field equipment supplier. Leduc Mayor Bob Young said at the time that it wasn’t clear what happened at the worksite in the city’s business park.

That accident is also being investigated by OHS authorities.

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