Thousands startled after loud boom rattles west Vancouver


A non-empty propane bottle that went into an industrial shredder likely caused the explosion at Pacific Coast Shredding

VANCOUVER — With skies yellow from massive wildfires north and south of them, people living in downtown Vancouver could be forgiven for being alarmed when they heard — and felt — a massive boom shortly before noon on Thursday.

Pacific Coast Shredding on Port Way in Vancouver. Photo via Google Street View
Pacific Coast Shredding on Port Way in Vancouver. Photo via Google Street View

The explosion came from Pacific Coast Shredding at 900 Port Way, according to Captain Joe Spatz with Vancouver Fire Department.

“We were still many, many blocks out and people were outside looking in that direction,” Spatz says one of the responders told him. “So we knew it was fairly significant.”

Given the magnitude of the explosion, crews were surprised to find that no one had been hurt, and there was no fire inside the building.

A loud explosion inside Pacific Coast Shredding at 900 Port Way in Vancouver was likely caused by a propane bottle. No one was hurt. Photo courtesy Pacific Coast Shredding
A loud explosion inside Pacific Coast Shredding at 900 Port Way in Vancouver was likely caused by a propane bottle. No one was hurt. Photo courtesy Pacific Coast Shredding

The cause was likely a propane canister that hadn’t been drained properly, and exploded when it entered the industrial grade shredder at the business, which is part of Metro Metals, Inc.

“One of the workers down there who talked to our guys said that he’s been there a few years and they’ve had that happen before,” said Spatz. 

That same employee did mention that this explosion, which was heard as far away as Felida according to some accounts on social media, was one of the loudest that he has heard.

“They don’t have any way of knowing, for sure, what it was,” Spatz added, “but it didn’t damage their equipment and they were able to continue their operations.”

Given everything that’s going on, Spatz says their firefighters were relieved to have something end well.

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