First, Jonathan Wright heard a loud hissing. Then he was thrown to the ground and turned to see a wall of orange, as flames surrounded him and several other workers after a massive explosion at the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., on Monday morning.
The American contractor said his workspace was approximately 35 metres from the blast – and the only stairway out was blocked by flames. “You could not see anything besides smoke and flames,” Wright said. “I thought we were done right there.”
Wright told his story Tuesday, as the refinery regrouped from the Thanksgiving Day explosion which shook the historic port city shortly after 10 a.m. local time and injured at least four workers.
Mayor Don Darling said Tuesday residents living near the refinery remain “very nervous,” even though the fiery incident has been stabilized. He said the city’s large industrial base comes with risks and there needs to be a broader discussion about the interaction between residents and industry.
The city of Saint John has warned of possible “flare-ups” as the refinery comes back online. At the time of the explosion, there were as many as 3,000 workers on the site.
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