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One man dead, 2 hurt in explosion at Nisku welding shop

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A man in his 40s was killed and two other men were seriously injured in an explosion inside a welding shop in an industrial area south of Edmonton Thursday morning.

The blast occurred in Nisku around 8:15 a.m. MT inside Ja-Co Welding at 1304 8th St. in the Nisku Business Park. 

One man was found dead on scene, RCMP said.

A middle-aged man was transported to hospital in Edmonton in critical, life-threatening condition, Alberta Health Services said in a statement. 

Another middle-aged man was transported to hospital in stable condition, AHS said. 

RCMP previously reported that only two men were injured on scene. Police were not releasing the name of the deceased. 

“Leduc RCMP were called to a business in Nisku, [to] reports of an explosion on site there,” RCMP Const. Mike Hibbs told CBC News. “Upon arrival, they discovered a small fire.” 

Police said there was no concern for public safety, but members of the public were being asked to stay away from the area. 

An explosion at Ja-Co Welding in the Nisku Business Park killed a man in his 40s Thursday morning. Nisku is a hamlet and an industrial park within Leduc County, about 25 kilometres south of downtown Edmonton. (CBC News)

RCMP, firefighters, paramedics and investigators with Occupational Health and Safety remained on scene, police said in a news release around 10 a.m.

Leduc County fire Chief Keven Lefebvre said his crews were at the Nisku fire station about 2.5 kilometres away when they felt and heard the force of the blast.

“We were in the office talking about our daily duties, what was lying ahead for the day, and we felt a big thump in the area, shortly followed by a dispatch to this business,” Lefebvre said.

“We felt it and heard it in our building so it was a pretty significant explosion. Some of my volunteer on-call responders come from Beaumont and they said they felt it in Beaumont.

“It was a pretty good blast, you could hear it for miles.”

When firefighters arrived on scene the building had already been evacuated. 

Fire officials say the force of the blast could be felt more than two kilometres away. (CBC)

After a primary search, a decision was made to allow burning acetylene tanks to vent off, Lefebvre said.

“Once they burn off their contents there is less risk of explosion … so that’s what we’ve been doing for the last little while.

“Those tanks are burning down now. The fire is basically out.” 

Emergency crews were called to the scene of an explosion inside Ja-Co Welding, a welding and machine shop in Nisku, south of Edmonton. (Ja-co welding Website)

As of 11 a.m., the acetylene tanks had burned off almost all of their fuel and firefighters were preparing to turn the scene over to RCMP and OHS.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, Lefebvre said. Crews will remain on scene as required, he said. 

“The initial blast caused some pretty extensive damage so there won’t be anybody else going in here for a while until some engineers check the stability,” he said. 

Nisku is a hamlet and an industrial park within Leduc County, about 25 kilometres south of downtown Edmonton. 

According to the company website, Ja‐Co Welding is a 110,000 square-foot facility divided into fabrication shops, offices and a machine shop.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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