Multiple investigations underway at scene of explosion and fire on Merivale Road

Posted On Sunday January 16, 2022
Merivale Road site photo
Merivale Road site photo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Sunday, January 16, 2022  3:36pm 

(Ottawa)—The Ontario Fire Marshal, the Office of the Chief Coroner/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service and the Ottawa Police Service continue their respective investigations into the devastating explosion and fire that occurred at 1995 Merivale Road on January 13th.

This afternoon, the three agencies participated in a Technical Briefing for media and shared this information.

We continue to support the families of all those involved. Our thoughts are also with the victim who remains in hospital.

The difficult work continues to recover the bodies of the people who remain unaccounted for. 

Sadly, the human remains of four persons have been located at scene, however no one has been recovered at this point. As a result, the forensic identification process to validate the identity of all unaccounted persons has not yet begun.

All agencies are carefully examining the scene and safeguards are in place to ensure it is safe to do so. Evidence is being collected methodically to try to determine the cause of the incident.

There is a continued risk of periodic flare-ups, presence of asbestos, chemicals and structural collapse and these are slowing recovery efforts.

It is anticipated that work at the scene will continue into next week and maybe longer. 

“The Office of the Chief Coroner and the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service offer sincere sympathies for those who have lost a loved one in this tragedy or are waiting to hear information regarding their loved one,” said Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion, Regional Supervising Coroner for East Region, Ottawa Office.  “The death investigation we are conducting is a process which seeks to understand how and why a person died. It does not lay blame or pass judgement. The goal is to identify the victims, determine the facts surrounding the death and possibly make recommendations to prevent further deaths.” 

“On behalf of the Fire Marshal, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to the families and community affected by this tragedy,” said Tim Beckett, Deputy Fire Marshal. “Our team has been making progress, however, there is still a lot of work to be done. Following the completion of our site examination over the course of the next few days, our investigators will be culminating the evidence and continuing to conduct an analysis of the event in order to determine a cause. It is still too early in the investigation to report any information surrounding the cause of this event.” 

“We realize there is always a feeling of urgency when a tragedy such as this occurs to find answers and locate all of the victims,” said Ottawa Police Inspector Frank D’Aoust. “The Ottawa Police Service and partners are moving as carefully and quickly as possible to provide meticulous investigative evidence and the utmost respect for the victims and their families. We will continue to keep the community updated on our recovery efforts and investigation.”

Other agencies including the Ministry of the Labour, Training and Skills Development are also conducting their own parallel investigation. The Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TTSA) and Transport Canada are assisting, bringing in knowledge and expertise. 

If you have any information about the incident, please contact the Ottawa Police Service West Criminal Investigations Section at 613-236-1222, ext. 2666. 

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CONTACT: 

 

Stephanie Rea, Issues Manager

Office of the Chief Coroner/Ontario Forensic Pathology Service

stephanie.rea@ontario.ca

 

Sean Driscoll, Public Relations Officer

Office of the Fire Marshal

sean.driscoll@ontario.ca

Tel: 416-568-4320

Media Relations Office, Ottawa Police

Tel: 613-236-1222, ext. 5366