The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on January 29, 1931 · 17
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 17

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Thursday, January 29, 1931
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SK.naSKIi. THE OTTAWA EVENING CITIZEN p. 88th TEAS, Ko. 131. OTTAWA, CANADA, THURSDAY, JANUARY 29, 1931. 28 Pages. PRICE TWO CENTS. EXPLOSION AGAIN SHAKES CITY; SEWERS COLLAPSE n i5 Blasts Affect Wide Area; Serious Situation Caused As Main Sewer Breaks In As Ottawa Dodged the Manhole Tops Sections of Ottawa Again Rocked hj Series of Sewer Explosions Similar to Those of May, 1929. Center Town Near Rideau Canal and Parts of Sandy Hill Chiefly Affected. , OTIZExNS R4VE NARROW ESC4PES AS CRATE COVERS HURLED THROUGH AIR Main Sewer Serving Large Central Area, and Ottawa South Sewer Collapse. Prompt Emergency Action Taken to Relieve Grave Situation and to Try to Obviate Menace of Blocked Drains. Xj. Torontow, whose store was wrecked In the 1929 explosions, had a pleasant surprise this time. He watched the manhole covers pop around the front of his establishment and was prepared for the worst. Not even one of his windows was damaged. , After Fire Swept Form er Presidential Yacht It was the uncertainty, not the bruises she received, which worried Miss Dorothy Nicholson, Overbrook. Miss Nicholson was slightly injured in the 1S29 blasts. Many irate and frightened citizens declared they would not sleep indoors last night. However, the weather was bad for camping, so most of Ottawa forgot its fears and slept in the usual cot. Many citizens thought the disturbance was an earthquake. The observatory was deluged with calls, but nothing was registered on the instruments there. Bursting from manholes with billows of smoke and steam, shortly before 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon, the second series of sewer explosions in less than two years biought fear and danger to residents of Ottawa in some of the same sections of the city which were affected in May, 1929. No definite theory for the explosion has been advanced, but residents of the affected areas are almost unanimous and generally emphatic in their belief that the upheaval was caused by the combustion of gasoline vapor in the mains. This idea seems to be borne out by the reeking odor of gasoline which permeated the houses and affected areas before and after the explosion. No one was hurt, although narrow escapes were frequent. Manhole covers were hurled high into the air, clearing high telephone poles, damaging the roofs of houses and hurtling a hundred feet from their proper places. The detonations were far more powerful and terrifying than those in the cannonade which rocked Ottawa on May 29, 1929. Most Serious Aspect of Situation. Possibly the most serious aspect of the explosion is the fact that the main sewer about three hundred feet above Cummings Bridge, 'and also a section of the Ottawa South sewer at the rear of the Strathcona Hospital have collapsed, blocking both sewers and causing the sewage to back up. The break in the main sewer on the east side of the river is the more serious, as this sewer serves th central part of the city south of Cooper street. Every available pump in the city will be put in commission to pump the sewage into the Rideau , river to prevent its backing up to such an extent that it would flow into basements, extinguishe furnaces and do other damage. The pumping was started shortly after midnight. In the case of the sewer at the rear of the Strathcona Hospital, it is a 54-inch sewer serving Ottawa South. The earth above this sewer has dropped about two feet for a distance of 600 feet or more, showing that there has been a complete collapse of the sewer. The remedy for this will be more simple, as the sewer is constructed on the edge of the river. An opening will be made some distance above the break to allow the sewage to flow into the Rideau river.?-.--- - ... , , Later the problem of keeping the sewage pumped into the river from becoming a nuisance will have to be considered, but the first thought is to pump and prevent the backing up into houses along Somerset street and others. A sixteen-inch water main at the corner of Somerset street and Marlborough avenue also was broken by the explosion. This, however,' is not so serious as might first, appear. The broken part of the pipe was cut out by means of valves and the hospital and other buildings have their water supply as usual. I Ottawa's sewer blasts come at qult-'. tin? time. In '1929 it was at 12 ! o'clock noon. Yesterday's just beat i the 5 o'clockers by a nose. Substantially the same districts were affected by both explosions. One of the real tragedies of the whole affair is related by the storekeeper who told of the children running out of the store leaving their candy, just purchased, behind them As usual, Ottawans turned to The Citizen when they wanted to know something in a hurry. Those who heard the explosions had calls into The Citizen almost before the echoes had died away to find if damage had been done anywhere. Others, hearing rumors of a new outbreak, called to have the story confirmed. Throu?.'i-out the night, anxious citizens called to inquire solicitously if anyone had been hurt. (Continued on Fage IS., JffipnPp irmm In inimSP Survey Is Made j 1929 Explosion By Expert Soon Is Recal ed By After Explosion! Ottawa's People The fire-blackened hulk of the former pr tially submerged in more than 20 feet of wat raised to determine whether it will be worth whose varied career included being a million and the private yacht of Presidents, sank aft The Mayflower, which President Hoover or expensive,' was to have been refitted as a gun waters. esidential yacht Mayflower, shown here par-er at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, is to be while to reconstruct it. The famous vessel, aire's yacht, a flagship, gunboat, patrol boat er flames had swept through it for three hours, dered decommissioned in 1929 as being too boat for special service in Central American Shaken As If By Heavy Gunfire In the disturbed districts the ground was shaken as if by heavy gunfire; houses trembled and rocked as it to collapse. Acrid smoke and gas fumes filled the air and tne droning whizz of the huge melai covers as they spun through the an struck terror to those in the neighborhood. ' Street lights In Sandy Hill were broken by the flying missiles and electric wires ripped from the posts. Falling covers . shattering on ihe frozen streets gave the explosion a:ea a truly wartime aspect. One hundred and fifty feet of roadway on Nelson street In Sandy Hill showed a wide fissure in the asphalt immediately over a subsidiary sewer, and water mains, including the slxteen-lnch one on Somerset street east, were broken. Broken walls and cracked ceilings was the extent of damage caused tc private houses, but residences were so filled with the fearful stench which filled the rooms following the blast that householders were forced out of doors to find relief from the nauseating sickness brought on by the fumes. Many people reported that water backing up from the drains flooded their kitchens and bathrooms, and that the sewer traps in their cellars were blown off. For several days residents of the affected areas say they have been troubled with the odor of gas filling their dwellings and this odor became ymore onenswe tnan usual yesieraay. In Sandy Hill the smell was particu-'llarly bad and during the last jew jfldays many complaints had been rnaSe ' llto the civic authorities. One lady was lactually in the act of telephoning a llmember of the Board of Control ask- flng it something could not be dor.e libout the odor in her dwelling he noise of the explosion interrupted Ihe conversation. Narrow Escapes. At least two narrow escapes from rleath were reported. On Chapel Ptreet, a lady waiting for an O.E.R. 'bus had the terrifying experience of having a manhole cover weighing around a hundred pounds fall at her feet after hurtling down from a height of eighty feet. A gentleman on Cartier street, who had been examining a manhole in an endeavor to ascertain the cause of the fumes which filled his house, had barei time to reach safety when the cover he had been looking at was sent high Into the air. In some houses the force of the blast was so severe as to throw occupants across the rooms Near Strathcona Park a cover went 75 fret Into the air severing the power wires and plunging the Isolation Hospital into darkness. Although t! patients . in the hospital are principally children, there was no panic. Residents in some of the district thmirht at first that an earthquake occurred and ru:'-d from their "uses fearing 'hat they would be trapped. - Many calls were received by the scientists at the Dominion Observatory asking if the rocking ot their homes was due to an eartn tremor and were glad to receive the assurance that they had nothing to expect In that direction. Whatever agent may have been the cause of the - explosion, the collapse of the sewer and the upheaval of the manhole covers has been ascribed by many authorities as being due to plugging of the vent-holes in the covers thereby causing an accumulation of gas in the sewers. : While many say that the odor emanating from the sewers after tne explosion is distinctly that of gasoline, others are just as emphastic In denying that such is the case. Inspector Joliat is very sceptical on the gasoline idea. People do not waste gasoline by throwing it down the sewers, he claims. Col. D. R. Street, general manager of the Ottawa Gas Company, is equally certain that the blast was not due to any escape of fuel gas from the mains of the company. When the explosion, occurred, the Board of Control was in session in the city hall. Business was at once suspended and Mayor Allen and the controllers made an extended survey of the affected areas. The Mayor was greatly distressed at the occui-rence and promised sn immediate Investigation into all possible sources and reasons for the upheaval. Civic ofiicials state that they have investigated all reports of gas odora. Yesterday afternoon between three o'clock and half past three two reports were Investigated but without any definite placing of the trouble. The sewers also have been inspected regularly until the winter weather set In Owing to the type of construction, the engineers state that the sewers could not be filled witn sediment. The size of the pipe, the flow of water and the grade make the pipes self -cleansing. Immediately after the explosion inspections were made of the sewei to ascertain if . any damage had oeen caused. In the explosion of May, 1929. the sewers were intact. W F. M. Bryce, sewer engineer, and his men by making observations detected the break in the Eastview section of the main sewer. About three hundred feet above the bridge, the water in the sewer was stagnant or backing up, while below the bridge It was flowing freely. The break is above where Eastview makes connection md so this municipality is not affected. A. F, Macallum, commissioner of works, and F. C. Askwith, deputy commissioner, were notified lute evening, Just after the location of the break was established. The commissioner ct once directed the remedial work. The main lewer crosses by two five-foot pipes undci the Rideau river at the end of Somerset tret. Wher the larger pipe divides into the two smaller ptprs there is a bell arrangement and Irom this pumps are being worked. It may be found necessary to secure the help of fire department pumpers to keep the sewer from backing up but every precaution will be taken anil every possible provision made. It was not thought at first that the Eastview section of the sewer was affected but when it was noticed that the water in the sewer was rising on Somerset street, the investigation was continued on the east side of tins river and the break was located. Directly Into River. The fractured pipe in the Ottawa South sewer while possibly more extended is not so serious as to the effect. Just above the break theie are no. houses connected with the sewer and It would take twenty-four hours or more for the sewage to rtack into basements. The location of this sewer along the west bank of the Rideau river makes the problem of meeting the emergency easy. An excavation will be made some distance above the break and a breach will be made in the sewer so that the sewage will flow directly into the bed of the river. Undoubtedly a sanitary problem will develop from sewage being pumped on top of the ice in the river. On the other hand, the backing up of sewage into basements ct houses and other buildings would also cause a more serious sanitary menace as well as great property damage. Once the danger of the back flow ot sewage is removed, the sanitary problem will be dealt with by the engineering department. A channel probably will be cut in the middle of the river. With the cold weather there will be little or no offence from the sewage and before the warmer weather comes the authorities will have arranged for its sanitary disposal. (Continued on Page 18.) Board Receives Great Shock At Quiet Gathering Mayor and Controllers Start On Inspection Trip As Soon As Word of Disaster Reaches Meeting. Mayor J. J. Allen, Con. Stanley Lewis, Con. George Dunbar and Con. J. W. York were discussing the city estimates for 1931 late yesterday afternoon when Con. Lewis was called to the telephone. William Bryson. Bell Telephone employe and an acquaintance of the controller, had been around Hurdman's Bridge and Sandy Hill when he heard the reports of "whizzing" manholes. He informed Con. Lewis of his observations. - A ' Thanking Mr. Bryson for his information the controller returned to the Board of Control chamber where his confreres were discussing civic matters and politely interrupting, informed them of the disaster. "The expressions on the faces of the city fathers when they were told of the occurrence cannot be described in words," said one observer. It was the last thing in the world that the Board of Control expected and only Tuesday evening the board recommended that the city pay St. Martin's church the sum of $491 for damages incurred by the last explosion, that being the final claim. No time was lost. The meeting was adjourned and after the controllers had communicated with various sections of the city, the official automobile was summoned. Accompanied by a Citizen reporter Center Town was the first area to be visited by the city heads. Entering the home of Fred McKay, 43 Mac-Donald street, tne Mayor and controllers were met by a strong gasoline odor. They went down Into the cellar, where the smell was practical ly unbearable and a hurried exit was necessary. The family told the visitors of the damage done to the house, which included a smashed window and the complete ruin of several ornaments. This was evidence enough to war rant Con. Dunbar ordering the sewar repair gang to commence work at once. Leaving this home the Mayor and controllers then inspected several other houses in the same vicinity which had suffered damage through the expwswn. Several families were anxious to know if it would be safe to remain indoors. They were assured that a repltition of the explosion, such as occurred in 1929, was hardly possible. They calmed the anxious in Center Town and turned their attention to Sandy Hill. Whilst Journeying from one part of the city to the other the civic officials were determined that immediate action had to be taken to investigate the cause of the explosion. It was also decided to hold a special session of the Board of Control at 8.30 last night to further discuss the matter. The home of Mr. J. H. Charron, 259 Somerset street east, was 4he first visited by the Mayor and the controllers in Sandy Hill. The basement window was smashed, while several articles in the dining room were shaken from position. The odor at the Charron residence resembled a gasoline filling station. It was necessary to open wide all the doors and windows In the house. Mayor Allen and his colleagues were urged to remedy the condition at once by both Mr. and Mrs. Charron, who said that they had witnessed the last disaster and were now becoming very anxious about their safety. The official automobile proceeded to other sections of Sandy Hill and mental note was taken of the many manholes blown from position in the pavement. After a complete survey of Sandy Hill from one end of Somerset St. east to trie other thence down Templeton which figureu prominently in the last explosion, the Mayor and controllers were conveyed to New Edinburgh. It was in this district that considerable loss was suffered in the 1929 catastrophe. One house after another was In-, Not Illuminating Gas, Says Col. D. R. Street Opinions varied as to the nature of the gas, which escaped from the manholes following the blasts. While the majority of those who smelled the gas expressed the opinion that the fumes were those from gasoline, others declared positively that they were illuminating gas. Col. D. R. Street, general manager of the Ottawa Electric and Gas Companies, in an Interview with The Citizen declared positively that the fumes were not illuminating gas. He said that he had been around all the area affected by the explosion and that he did not detect any odor of illuminating gas. When asked if there was any possible chance of the fumes seeping through the ground from a leaky gas main into the sewer he said that his company has recording meters to detect any such occurrence and that any such leaks were given prompt attention. Col. Street was asked whether or not any residue from the manufacture of Illuminating gas was disposed of into the! city sewers. He answered in the negative. . Exciting Experience On Bus On Sandy Hill W. J. Cousineau, 108 Beech ffood avenue, driver of the OE.R. bus on the Strathcona Hospital extension, said, "We had Just passed the corner of Henderson avenue and Somerset street east, when the mannole cover blew off. The bus was not IS feet ahead of the cover when the explosion occurred. "The passengers, all of ' whom lived in the district and most of whom had been In the previous explosion, were all excited. Some of them could not wait for me to stop the bus to open the door but tried to get the windows open. When they saw that the danger had passed, ths passengers did not leave the bus out we remnlned stationary for a few minutes to see if flames were coming out of the sewers." . spected, leading to the discovery that little or no damage had occurred in the "Burgh. :Dr. A. E. Maclntyrc Unable Yet to State Cause, But Points to Some Interest- ing Circumstances. "The whole thing, apparently, has been confined to the main sewer So far as I could ascertain from a quick survey, the explosions hadn't been in the laterals. I wouldn't express an opinion as to the cause after only a quick survey such as I made tonight," Dr. Alfred E. Maclntyre, chief explosive chemist of the Department of Mines, told The Citizen last night, following his return to his home after making a tour of the scene of last evening's sewer explosion In company with W. F. M. Bryce, city sewer engineer. Dr. Maclntyre made an extensive study of the 1929 sewer explosions and almost immediately after the reports of the blasts reached city hall last evening, he again was Invited to investigate. "There is a wide difference of opinion expressed by the various residents in homes In the vicinities of the explosions, "he declared. "I did not, In my travels tonight, Interview anyone who claimed to have seen a blaze accompanying the explosions. Some said they saw black smoke, and others held the smoke was white. When I inspected the various manholes, I saw steam arising but did not notice any smoke. All this makes It very difficult to arrive at a reasonably accurate conclusion as to what might have caused the explosion," Commenting upon the explosions, Dr. Maclntyre said that something to be considered was the fact that nearly all the gratings blown off that he had seen were open. It was these "breathers" that were thrown out by the force of the blast, he said. "I couldn't find a sewer cover that was closed tight that had been blown off. In the last explosion, both the open and the closed tops were lifted by the force of the blast. Could I find anyone who has found a solid top blown, I would have something to work on," he said. Dr. Maclntyre, however, would not elaborate on this last statement. Hot and Cold. Another odd feature In the Sandy Hill district was pointed out by Dr. Maclntyre. In the area near Ottawa University stadium on Nicholas street, he says, he found a manhole grating which was hot, and from the manhole considerable steam was escaping, while about 160 feet away, on Templeton street, the manhole cover was cold and there was a current of air down into the sewer. On Somerset street the steam was coming out of some manholes, while in others there was a current of air into the sewer. The condition In all parts where the explosions occurred tended to show a great deal of local heating, but Dr. Maclntyre stated he had no evidence of this except what he saw. Along the Driveway all the gratings were warm, and steam was escaping from all manholes. Dr. Maclntyre regretted that he had not been able to make a survey of the sewer prior to the explosion as he felt that the only way the cause could be definitely ascertained would be to get sample of the gases In the sewer previous to the combustion that preceded the explosion. "It Is almost Impossible to determine from the gases remaining after the explosion, what gases had been responsible. If we could find some place where these preliminary gases had assembled after the explosion within the next few days, we could then probably find out certain things One Woman Was Killed, One Seriously Burned and Great Property Dam age Was Caused. ' Memories of the explosions of May 29, 1929, were vividly recalled immediately the blasts were reported yesterday afternoon. It was just as the noon gun sounded on that day nearly two years ago that the untimely blasts rocked several portions of the city. Mrs. Anna Hayden, 73 years of age, of 37 Templeton avenue, was fatally Injured when endeavoring to put out a fire in her home, her clothing took fire. She was rushed to Water Street j Hospital, but died the following after- noon. Miss Lillian Pettapiece, 301 Somer. i set street east, suffered severe bums, which required her removal to the hospital. The other persons who suffered minor Injuries were Mrs. i. Torontow, 312 Somerset street east; Miss DoTothy Nicholson. Overbrook: Mrs. George Kuntz, 302 Somerset street east; Arthur Leger, 36 Merton street, and John Hayter, 439 Nelson street. St Martin's Wrecked. St Martin's chapel, John street. New Edinburgh, was one of the buildings which were wrecked, the interior decorations and fittings wert completely demolished, and all windows blown out The residence of Captain Sam B. Blackler, of the city fire department, 211 Henderson avenue, was almost completely wrecked and burned. The grocery store of I. Torontow, at the corner of Chapel and Somerset street east, looked as though it had been bombed, windows were shattered and the shelves with goods on them crashed to the floor. The home of Mrs. C Nicholson, 192 Henderson avenue, was considerably damaged in the front - Street cars were rerouted when the OJS.R. was ordered by the city to discontinue service on Crichton street as It was thought more explosions might occur. Upheavals and rents in the pavement along which - the sewer main ran were caused by the blasts. Slept In Open Alt. : Residents of Sandy Hill and New Edinburgh were badly frightened, but toward nightfall the majority entered their houses, although several residents of New Edinburgh preferred to sleep out fearing to enter the houses. The smell of gas In the residences was also a deterrent 10 sleeping indoors. - In the explosion yesterday afternoon Ottawa fared better in these respects, no life was lost, no one seriously Injured, no traffic tie-ups and no buildings were damaged to any great extent. that would assist in determining the cause," he said. Not So Severe In Homes. The expert said that experiences In the last explosion apparently had caused many persons to put in traps In their cellars because the effect of the explosion this time hadn't been felt as badly In homes.. Dr. Maclntyre was anxious to learn full particulars regarding the explosion. The blast last evening, he said, had apparently begun in ap proximately the same locality as did , the explosion of May, 1929. Also ' the route of the1 near disaster fol lowed along almost Identically the same lines, except that beyond East-view there were no disturbances. He would not advance any reason as to why New Edinburgh was not affected as It was the last time. Just how long It would take to arrive at what he could feel satisfied was the cause of the latest explosion, Dr. Maclntyre would not say. 'DENMAN'S 75c (corrugated) Vacuum OQ Bottles OtJL Lunch Kits, com- p:e ... $i.i9 FRIDAY, SATURDAY, MONDAY, TUESDAY .-A Special 4 Day Sale of Nationally-known Drugs. Phones R. 4609, R. 7277 We Deliver. 35c Cocoanut Oil Shampoo O for 35c Extra Specials 60c Modess. With Free Goods 39c 25c Hydrogen Peroxide 2,or25c 60c Hydrogen Peroxide , 39c soc Pair Rubber Gloves 29c Pair 19c Diamond Dyei for 15c SIM Nujol 79c Affr,,Br.....l9c 2 for 35c 19c 25c Minard's Liniment Tented and Approved Dr. West's 5P Toofh Paste CLEANS TEETH SAFELY! URCE TUB! 25e Dr. West's Tooth Paste Western Company . . Chicige 60c Andrew's Liver Salts.. 49c $ 2.50 Absorbine Junior . . $1.98 $1.25 Absorbine Junior .. 98c $1.50 Agarol $1.39 75c AEarol 9c $1.50 Asaya-Meurall f 1.23 Anfo-Strop Razor and Blade 9 100 Aceto Tablets, 5 gr. . . 39c 25c tubes Accto Tablets 2 for 25c 75o 1-lb. Absorbent Cotton 39c 10c Baby's Own Soap 7c 25c Bayer's Aspirin.. 2 for 35c 40c 1-lb. Boracic Acid .... 23c $1.00 Byno Hypophosphltes 89c 75e Blsurated Magnesia .. 59c 25c Carter's Pills 19c 35c Castoria 29c 60c Chase's Nerve Food . . 39c 60o Chase's Ointment ... 39c 35c Chase's K. & L. rills. . 29c 35c Chase's Cough Srrup.. 29c 75c Chase's Cough Syrup 59c Sflo Cold Creams, asst. .. 39c 50c Camphorated Cnld Cream 39c 25c Carbolic Salve 19c 75c Coty's Face Powder . . 49c 35c Danderlne 29r 60c Dandrrine 49c 1.00 Dandertne "9c 25c Dew Dodnrant 19c SOc Dew Deodorant 39c 50o Dunont s Brilliantine 39c $1.00 D.D.D. 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