Victims of deadly industrial blast remembered as 'good people'

Josh Bastien says his father, Rick, on the right, died Thursday in a fire in the Eastway Tank on Merivale Road in Ottawa, one of the worst disasters in the city’s history. Rick is photographed by his wife, Louise Martel. (Rick Bastien / Facebook)

Friends and relatives of those affected by Thursday’s catastrophic explosion at Ottawa’s truck-making company mourn the loss of their loved ones, as authorities continue to reconcile the cause of the deadliest accident in the city’s history.

One person has died and five others are missing and are thought to have died following a blast at the Eastway Tank Pump and Meter Ltd., 1995 Merivale Rd. Explosion happened around 1:30 pm Thursday.

One of the victims was Eastway long-time employee Rick Bastien, 57, a former site manager who was listed on the company’s current list as a welding / craftsman / machine maker.

“My father worked hard for the rest of his life to support his family,” Josh Bastien wrote in a text message to CBC News.

I think my dad just wanted to retire and I think that soon.– Josh Bastien


“He was a stand-alone person, loved by everyone he met. I didn’t know he had enemies. He would have been with his friends at the helmet. He loved me and my sister and we can always count on him to stay there,” wrote Bastien, who worked with his father on the Eastway until about a year ago.

He is about to retire

Bastien said his father was a master craftsman who recently completed a house he lived in in Luskville, Que., With his wife, Louise Martel.

“We’ve been together for the best 10 years and we hope we have another 30+ to come,” Martel wrote on her husband’s Facebook page. “We had a good plan. RIP RICK. I love you and I will always do it, until we meet again.”

Josh Bastien said his father had been retired for three years and was looking forward to leaving Eastway.

“He was a very good father to me. Thank you very much for the time we were together,” he wrote.

“My dad wanted to leave but I think my dad just wanted to retire and I think soon,” he said. “Soon.”

The devastation following Thursday’s explosion and fire at Eastway Tank is shown in drone images from Friday afternoon. (CBC)

‘My heart goes out to their families’

Bastien said he worked with all those who died or went missing after Thursday’s blaze, calling them friends and “good people.”

Among the victims was a new plant manager, whom Bastien called “a good man”; a girl who was trained to burn under her father; a French-speaking African guest who “always had a good smile on his face at work and my dad loved him and me”; one man who “always told jokes and jokes to be with them”; and another man from Deep River, Ont., who loved fishing and walking down the street in his Jeep.

One survivor was airlifted to Toronto, where he was being treated for burns at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center. Hospital officials refused to divulge his condition to CBC News on Friday.

Authorities have not released the names of the dead, missing or injured, and CBC News has not yet confirmed who they are.

Neil Greene, president and owner of Eastway Tank, said Friday that “it is with great sadness that we have heard that one of our friends has died in the explosion, five are missing and one is in hospital.”

“My heart goes out to their families, loved ones and all our employees who are suffering from this great loss,” Greene said.

“We have a lot of contact with the investigators, and we will cooperate with the authorities on all the investigations that have taken place. We want to know what happened.”

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