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Looking back: 10 years since the Pyramid Stables explosion

File photos, Jasper Fitzhugh

Ten years ago, a catastrophic explosion destroyed the staff accommodation building at Pyramid Riding Stables, sending ten people to hospital.

It was July 17, 2010, at about 11:20 p.m. when the blast occurred, blowing the roof and three walls off of the staff accommodation building, and throwing seven individuals out of the building. Two people were rescued by firefighters and another was able to get himself out.

And a guest at Pyramid stables, Justin Byrne, pulled seven people away from the flaming staff accommodation. He called 911 and moved the casualties out of harm’s way, while EMS crews treated them for shock, broken bones, cuts and bruises before they were taken to hospital.

Three years after the explosion, Byrne was recognized by the Governor General of Canada with a medal of bravery for his contribution that night.

File photos, Jasper Fitzhugh

The 10 casualties were taken to Seton General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, however at least three people were taken by helicopter to Edmonton University Hospital with head injuries. 

Fire crews kept the blaze from spreading in the forest, but as there is no fire hydrant on Pyramid Lake Road, firefighters had to use the hydrant at the base of the hill a few kilometres away to fill their pumper trucks.

A relay system was set up between the town and the fire a few kilometres from town.

A second garage beside the staff accommodation also caught fire, however crews were able to save the other structures, including a hay barn next to the burning building. All of the horses were also moved to a separate paddock as a safety precaution, and were in no danger, however one dog was killed in the blast.

Following the explosion, the Jasper Fire Department conducted an investigation and determined the blast was caused by a gas line leak.

“Origin of fuel source has been identified as a leak in the gas line fitting where it branched off of the hot water tank line to supply a stove in the office room,” stated the report. 

“Over a period potentially upwards of several weeks the propane gas accumulated undetected in the crawl space below the structure until such time as the optimum air/gas mixture contacted the burners in the hot water tank and ignited.”

Now, new staff accommodation stands at the former site.

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