A series of explosions heard throughout Terrace last night have left a trucking shop in ruin and the surrounding property scarred with debris and fire damage.
Miraculously, no one was injured.
Thornhill and Terrace fire departments and RCMP responded to a call to McPherson Trucking Company on Doll Road, on Braun’s Island, at 10:32 p.m. last night. Terrace deputy fire chief Dave Jephson said company owner Vic McPherson, who lived 50-feet away from the building, was woken up by a large explosion from inside the shop that could be heard across the southside and lower part of the city.
“He ran out of the house, saw a huge fireball, what was a shed and a smaller building wasn’t there anymore, and he instantly ran out and jumped into equipment and started moving it,” Jephson said.
When firefighters arrived on scene, the building was completely engulfed in flames reaching 150-feet to the tops of the trees at the back of the property. Many vehicles and other large pieces of equipment were inside the building when the blast went off.
“We know that there’s welders, we know that there’s tools, we know there was a fifth-wheel, there’s boats, there’s cars, there’s snow machines, there’s quads, small tractors, another big dump truck at the back is down… it’s pretty extensive,” Jephson said, adding that explosions continued at the scene for several hours.
For five hours Thornhill Fire Department supplied water shuttles from the closest hydrant, which Terrace fire chief John Klie said was “quite far away” from the structure.
The fire was knocked down at 3:48 a.m. and crews were on scene until 8:30 a.m. this morning. Klie said there were enough crews to go down and manage those spots to prevent a forest fire from starting.
“Because the shop was right in the trees, we were lucky it didn’t turn into a forest fire,” Klie said. “There was a lot of ash and debris floating away from the main fire.”
Crews are continuing their investigation today and a specialist will be brought out to look at the trees that caught flames to decide which ones will need to be cut down.
Emergency Support Services were called out to help find accommodations for the owner.
“[It’s] extensive for a businessman,” Jephson said. “But here’s a guy that has worked in the community for 50, 60 years. He employs a lot of people, contributes to the community in every way and it’s a huge hit for him. Obviously everyone’s going to come and support him and do what they can to help,” Jephson said.
Witnesses on the scene
Area resident Ty Amante, said he heard eight to 10 loud bangs and saw smoke and flames billowing from the trucking company building at 10:30 p.m.
“When I first got here, the trees looked like they were on fire. From what I can tell, the shop’s completely gone,” Amante said last night while watching the smoke from Archer Ave. “Just massive… right now it looks like nothing. It looks like a campfire right now than what it was before.”
Evan Jennings, a security guard at Coast Mountain College, said the explosions shook his house from blocks away.
“We got here seconds after the first responders got here,” he said. “We were just about to go out for dinner when we heard a ‘boom,’ I could feel it in my feet. My roommate thought it was a gunshot, but no, the gunshot wouldn’t make the house shake. I thought a train had derailed.”
Brian Rudd said he’s worked as a mechanic for the McPherson Trucking Company for the last nine years and found out about the fire after speaking with the owner over the phone.
“The shop part is totally gone, I think the only thing left there is the house,” Rudd said as he watched the smoke cloud behind the residence next to where company building was. He said before the fire, the shop was visible from Archer Ave.
“It was basically a big wood structure, the shop was. It seems like the house is fine… but it looks like the shop is totally gone.”