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Fire hits the Montreal metro

The Story


Tragedy has struck the Montreal metro. A 40-year-old metro operator is killed after a moving train crashes into a parked train near the Henri-Bourassa station, setting off a blaze that burns for more than 17 hours. More than 20 firemen are injured and 15 others are treated for gas poisoning after the fire sets off the explosion of nitrogen-filled tires on the subway cars. Fortunately, no passengers were on the train at the time of the accident. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Dec. 10, 1971
Guest(s):
Reporter: David Halton
Duration: 1:18

Did You know?


• In addition to killing 40-year-old train operator Gerard Maccarone, this fire destroyed a garage and 36 metro cars, totalling approximately $7 million in damage.
• To extinguish the blaze, firemen had to flood the terminal, covering the trains with approximately 3.5 metres of water.
• A later investigation revealed that the crash was caused by a jammed throttle, which prevented the brakes from working properly.

• Another major metro fire occurred in 1974, after a series of tire blowouts caused a blaze that destroyed a nine-car train between Laurier and Rosemont stations. Thousands of commuters were evacuated through smoke-filled tunnels, but nobody was injured. A subsequent inquiry recommended about $70 million worth of changes.

• In 2004, Montreal's metro system employs 12 fire-prevention specialists and has a fire preparedness centre near the Henri-Bourassa station. There's a central computer programmed with 2,500 possible fire scenarios. It can recommend evacuation directions and ventilation instructions within 45 seconds.


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Going Underground: Toronto's Subway and Montreal's Metro more