LaSalle, QB Chemical Plant Explosion, Oct 1966


Montreal (CP) -- Ten bodies were recovered Thursday night and today from an explosion-torn chemical plant in suburban La Salle where a severe
blast set off a spectacular fire.
One man was believed still missing. Two persons were injured but most were released from hospital after treatment.
The fire continued to smoulder today, more than 12 hours after the initial blast, heard over most of the western end of Montreal Island, and susequent less severe blasts.
Although the fire was brought under control early today firemen said the flames, fed by chemicals
"refuse to go out even though we've poured on so much water the place looks like a lake."
Police identified four of the victims as JOHN KEE, of Niagara Falls, Ont., age unknown; ANASTASION VACELATOS, 30, of LaSalle; PETER KONOSONGALOU, 27, of LaSalle, and JOHN SAVERINY, 30, of Ville Emard, Que.
The identity of the remaining victims were not immediately available.
All but one of the injured were released from hospital in LaSalle after treatement. The 10th man was transferred to Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital.
"The cause of the explosion will not be known for several days, maybe weeks," Ken Molyneaus, personnel director, said. "It will have to be looked into by a team of thoroughly trained investigators."
The explosion, which broke windows more than a mile from the scene, occurred in a group of tanks containing chemicals believed used in the manufacture of plastics.
The community, on Montreal's southwest outskirts,
was the site of an explosion 18 months ago when an apartment building blew up, killing 28 persons.
Firemen concentrated on preventing the spread of Thursday night's fire to other tanks and railway tank cars in the area.
The fire was believed to have started near a loading ramp in a section of the plant reserved for polystyrene and alcohol.
None exploded but one tanker car was knocked on its side by the blast.
After the initial explosion, more than 10 minor blasts occurred.
"I lost my hat and keys but I got out alive," said GABRIEL PIGEON, 43, a security guard.
"I was washing my hands after finishing my rounds," said MR. PIGEON. "It was about 10:15 when boom .... I was thrown back from the basin. But I wasn't hurt. I got out of there in a hurry."
GERARD DEMAIS, 25, and DON NEIL, 26, escaped the explosion with nothing more than a bad case of the shakes.
More than two hours after the initial blast the two husky men sat in the rear of a police ambulance, still shaky.
"We seem to be OK," said NEIL. "It all happend so fast."
REAL COLLIN, 48, a watchman for the Dominion Steel and Coal Co., saw the explosion from a Dosco gatehouse, more than a mile away.
"It happened at exactly 10 minutes past 10."
"The lights dimmed. Flames shot into the air, just like a blast from an atomic explosion, just like a mushroom. Then there was a loud bang."
Mayor Lionel Boyer of LaSalle arrived at the scene about half an hour after the blast.
"I saw three of the victims. They were just a piece of charcoal."
Rev. Roger Jeannot, chaplain of the LaSalle fire department, administered last rites of the Roman Catholic Church to three victims.
"I gave them last rites, but only on the bones."

The Brandon Sun Manitoba 1966-10-14