2 injured after electrical explosion, fire in downtown Vancouver
BC Hydro says it is investigating the cause of an electrical explosion and fire that injured two people in downtown Vancouver on Friday night.
Witnesses said they heard a loud bang just after 6 p.m. PT and saw a large ball of fire on Burrard Street between West Hastings and West Cordova streets.
Nearby buildings and businesses were evacuated when firefighters and city police officers arrived at the scene.
In a statement, the utility said determining the cause was “top priority”, adding the incident had been rare and it was focused on making sure its electrical equipment was safe and reliable for customers.
Dan Nichols, acting deputy fire chief for Vancouver Fire Rescue Services, said about 45 firefighters were rushed to Burrard Street because of an explosion in front of the Marine Building, an Art Deco-style skyscraper popular as a filming location for film and television productions 355 been called.
“When the crews got to the scene, they were hit by a fireball,” he said.
“It moved a pretty big chunk of concrete, so it was a massive explosion.”
CLOCK | Fires in downtown Vancouver included:
Nichols said firefighters attended to two people with cuts and burns to their faces, but he wasn’t sure of the extent of their injuries. BC Emergency Health Services later told CBC that two patients are in stable condition.
Nichols suspects the fire started in an electric vault.
He said two buildings were damaged and windows blown out, with the fire and smoke primarily affecting a JJ Bean cafe in the Navy Building.
Nichols said firefighters quickly entered the building when they arrived but found it mostly empty apart from a few cleaners.
“I’ve never seen such a big fire”: Witness
Nick Tam, who was working in the building next to the JJ Bean at the time, said he heard the explosion and then the fire alarm. When he and his staff were evacuated, they encountered black smoke and flames on the street.
“There was a lot of urgency, a lot of us were thrown out into the street to get as far away as possible as quickly as possible,” Tam said.
Gabriel Ramirez drove by when the explosion happened.
“We had to stop and look at this because I’ve never seen a fire that big in my life,” Ramirez said.
“It’s great to see how quickly the fire engines were able to take care of it. It’s really reassuring to know that they’re capable of it.”
TransLink said the Waterfront SkyTrain station has been closed at the request of police over an incident near Burrard and West Hastings.
In a tweetThe Vancouver Police Department said officers are assisting firefighters investigating an explosion, adding that it was not a criminal act.
BC Hydro also came to help firefighters clear the scene of the accident. Her statement said the blast caused outages at seven customers, adding that she was working “around the clock” to restore their power supply.
“BC Hydro maintains its equipment regularly and the electric safe was last inspected less than a year ago and found to be in normal working order.”
Nichols said just after 7:30 p.m. PT the fire had burned out and crews were concentrating on cleanup efforts.
Just before 9:15 p.m., TransLink announced that Waterfront Station had reopened and regular operations had resumed.