Five injured in Rock Forest explosion

By Gordon Lambie – Local Journalism Initiative
Five injured in Rock Forest explosion
The four-alarm fire required additional water to be brought to a temporary reservoir on-site to keep up with demand as firefighters worked throughout the day. (Photo : Gordon Lambie)

Sherbrooke firefighters were called to the Centre de valorisation de l’aliment (CVA) in Rock Forest on Wednesday morning after reports of an explosion within the building.

According to Sherbrooke Fire Chief Stéphane Simoneau, the call came in around 8:45 a.m. and the first teams on the scene found several walls to be unstable and blast debris within a 300-metre radius of the building.

“It is clear that there was a significant explosion,” he said.

Although the fire itself was considered largely under control by midday, Simoneau said that he expected the work to completely extinguish it would take the better part of the day. The section of Bourque Boulevard between du Parc Avenue and Saint-Roch Road was closed for the duration of the operation.

CVA, a self-described “food hub” was created in 2019 to bring together regional food producers in a space that offered commercial kitchen and food storage facilities. The fire chief said that the building was considered a class three risk in past inspections, due to the presence of propane. He speculated that either propane or natural gas might be part of the cause of the explosion and ensuing fire, although he emphasized that everything is hypothetical until an investigation is completed.

While initial report suggested that only three people were injured in the blast, Doctor Marie-Maud Couture, chief of emergency medicine with the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that five people were transported to the hospital.
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