Editor’s note: This is an updated story as of 8:11 p.m. with details from Cornwall Fire Chief Pierre Voisine. Story is also corrected to show the truck was carrying liquid nitrogen, not hydrogen.
CORNWALL – Two people were taken to hospital by paramedics after an explosion and fire on the Walmart Logistics property in the city’s business park Friday afternoon.
City firefighters, police and EMS were called to the back of the distribution center, also known as Supply Chain Management, on SCM Way around 4:30 p.m.
A security guard next door tells Cornwall Newswatch he heard a loud bang but thought nothing of it, thinking it was a trailer being dropped, until he saw the flames.
Cornwall Fire Chief Pierre Voisine tells Cornwall Newswatch they are not ruling out some sort of small explosion but the quick action of firefighters avoided a potential catastrophe.
A tanker truck on the property, carrying liquid nitrogen, caught fire during a refueling process.
“There was an event…there was a little bit of a blowout. The relief valve (on the truck) blew out so that would have been the bang. If it was a full liquid nitrogen explosion you would have heard it as much as I would have,” Voisine said.
Voisine says parts of the tanker truck, such as wiring harnesses, were on fire and the situation could have been a lot worse had the nitrogen (tank) itself caught fire.
It’s not known what caused the fire.
Paramedics could be seen treating a man near the gatehouse to the property while a woman was loaded into an ambulance.
While he can’t confirm the details because firefighters didn’t treat the injured, Voisine says he had heard reports one of the injured may have suffering some sort of hearing loss.
The fire caused a backlog of truck traffic at the logistics center as trailer-trailers began lining
up outside the building and down the street waiting to get on the property.
Firefighters and EMS wrapped up at the scene around 5:30 p.m.