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Town picking up the pieces after plant explosion

  • CSST and Quebec provincial police investigators work at the scene of a fireworks explosion at  that destroyed 2 warehouses and left 2 women dead in Coteau-du-Lac.
    CSST and Quebec provincial police investigators work at the scene of a fireworks explosion at that destroyed 2 warehouses and left 2 women dead in Coteau-du-Lac.
    Photo credit: Peter McCabe / THE GAZETTE

Ginette Boiron has been working at Dépaneur St-Emmanuel for about as long as B.E.M. Fireworks has been established at Coteau-du-Lac.

Over the 37 years, she worked at the corner store, she became friendly with most of the roughly 30 employees who work in the plant across Highway 20.

So when she heard a loud boom, and left her dépanneur to see smoke rising from the factory, she knew it would be a sad day.

“I’ve been here a long time, and I never thought something like that would happen,” said Boiron, the convenience store’s manager. “We heard a loud boom, and we left the (dépanneur) right away. I thought our roof was going to collapse on us. The whole building shook.”

Françoise Lacroix, 47, and Nicole Brisson, 58 were found dead in the wreckage.

Boiron said she knew the women, and was sad to hear of their loss.

On Friday, the store that is part of the plant remained open, and there was a steady flow of people buying fireworks for the weekend, it being the busiest time for the family-run business.

But inside the store, clerks refused to speak to media. The two women working at the cash said only they were very sad for their colleague.

B.E.M. Fireworks owner Bernard Masson was on the scene for most of the day, surveying the charred remains of his fireworks warehouse with police officers, insurance representatives, and representatives of Quebec’s workplace safety board, the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail. At one point, his brother Gilles, who also works at the plant joined him, but neither man would speak to the group of reporters gathered behind the tape that cordoned off the scene. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Valleyfield resident Jocelyn Quenneville, 65, came to see the sight Friday, as he had a long business relationship with Masson.

Quenneville, a volunteer with the Valleyfield Regatta, dealt with Masson for 15 years when he organized the regatta’s Saturday fireworks exhibition.

“He was very safety cautious, and he was excellent with security. He followed all the norms,” he said. “I visited the warehouse, and it was impeccable.

“I was very surprised to hear about this.”

Several nearby cities have cancelled their fireworks demonstrations for the weekend, including Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Pincourt, St-Lazare, Notre-Dame-de-l’Ile Perrot, St-Lazare and Vaudreuil-Dorion.

While some of the cities have said they have done so out of respect for the victims of the explosion, Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon said the city’s fireworks were destroyed in the blaze.

Nevertheless, the city expressed its sorrow at hearing about the explosion.

“Out of respect for the victims, the administration has decided to cancel the demonstration,” said Jessica Genest, a spokesperson for Vaudreuil-Dorion. “Our thoughts are with the victims.”

St-Lazare said it’s possible its July 1 fireworks will also be cancelled.

jmagder@montrealgazette.com
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3 comments

  1. Pingback: Loud sound heard across region Tuesday night still a mystery | Off Island Gazette

  2. Pingback: Loud sound heard across region Tuesday night still a mystery | West Island Gazette

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