This post was originally published on Gather.com, and is reproduced here (to try to keep my writing in one spot).
Thousands of people fled their homes in a residential neighbourhood of Toronto early Sunday following a series of explosions and a massive fire at a propane depot.
– CBC News
Tim and I got home from a camping trip (well, it was a gay campground: less than real camping) last night around 2am; the weather had been rainy (okay, VERY rainy: four separate thunderstorms descended on our site while we were there) and our tent, which worked quite well on a bright and sunny weekend, sprung more leaks than I could count. We still had fun, but left as soon as we could, arriving home and trundling in to bed in the early morning.
I slept soundly, but remember waking for a few minutes because of a rumbling sound from somewhere: I actually had to calm myself down, telling myself it was just a car or something outside. The sun was just rising. After all, we live at a known intersection of a major urban centre where almost anything can happen, at any time. Whatever it was, it came from outside so I knew the kitties had not stumbled into anything explosive. And of course I fell right back to sleep.
A few hours later my mom called, and asked if she could come to our house if they were evacuated. I was just a bit confused; I had been up for maybe 30 minutes and watching the Olympics. I got her version of events and ran upstairs to get my computer and check the news. It was the top story for Google news (at least for my area). The first link I tried was the one above, from CBC. I had heard the explosion of a propane facility; what I had thought was the sun rising was the glow from the fires. My mom was right on the edge of the evacuated area; being bit further north, we were pretty safe. I was glad I was able to assure her that she and my brother could stay here if they needed to.
But I couldn’t help but wonder what a chemical storage facility was doing in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. I’m all for mixing the use of urban land to make things a bit more efficient: so that people can live near their workplaces and don’t have to spend as long in transit. But safety has got to be an issue. This illustrates that sometimes steps are skipped (and I’m sure palms were greased) and the result can be dangerous.