A fire that broke out after multiple explosions at a Brampton, Ont., propane facility Wednesday night is now extinguished and the area is safe, though fire officials say the situation could have been much worse.

Firefighters were called to the Air Liquide compressed gas facility near Steeles Avenue West and Dixie Road, just north of Pearson airport, at around 9:30 p.m. ET 


Officials gather at the site of Wednesday's fire and series of explosions at Liquide Air facility in Brampton. One worker was sent to hospital with minor injuries. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The exploding canisters weighed about 30 to 100 pounds, about five times the size of a typical barbecue tank.

Fire crews worked quickly to keep larger tanks cool and prevent them from exploding.

"It could've been much worse," said Brampton Fire Chief Andy MacDonald on Wednesday. "The idea is to try to keep the tanks in the area cool. Our quick response in getting water on those tanks that were surrounding the fire ... keeping any other tank from exploding is what enabled us to be able to eventually get to the tank from the back side and shut down the big tank."

Officials believe the fire started when the worker was transferring propane from a larger tank to a smaller one — also the cause of the 2008 Sunrise propane explosion in the Downsview area of Toronto that resulted in the death of two people and the evacuation of nearby homes and businesses.      

The exact number of the propane tanks involved in Wednesday's explosions is not immediately available, but the Air Liquide facility is a large plant that supplies a number of agencies.

As firefighters were at the scene, police shut down CN Rail lines in the area due to concerns that flying debris from the fire may hit the trains.

Police have also shut down businesses in the area, but there is no risk to residents as there are no residential buildings or homes in the immediate area, a Peel Regional Police spokesperson said.

One male employee at the facility was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries due to minor burns, police said.

Air Liquide said no one from the company was available for comment Thursday afternoon, but it said in a written statement that the employee was released "within a few hours of receiving treatment."

"Air Liquide takes the situation very seriously. An investigation is underway in collaboration with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the fire," the release reads.

The facility remains closed Thursday, the release said.  

The Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal is investigating.

The sound of explosions rattled homes kilometres away and brought many residents outside.

“When the canisters were flying in the air, I've never seen such a thing other than in [the video game] Call of Duty,” said Fahad Abbas, who works as a security guard in a nearby building. 

Fireballs that lit up the night sky were caught on camera by social media users.

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