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Historic N.S. storm: Woman dies after snow falls on propane line outside seniors home


The son of a Cape Breton woman injured last week in a propane explosion caused by sliding snow says his mother has died.

Craig Orychock says his 73-year-old mother, Glenda Orychock, died Sunday in a Halifax hospital after she suffered serious burns in the explosion Friday evening at the Silver Birch Manor seniors residence in Sydney, N.S.

Orychock says snow fell from the roof of the residence onto propane tank lines outside his mother's apartment.

He says the leaking gas somehow ignited -- creating a blast that severely injured his mother.

The explosion occurred a week after a historic storm piled more than 150 centimetres of snow onto roadways and buildings in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, which includes Sydney.

Orychock describes his mother's death as a "terrible accident."

"I think we're very lucky there was only one fatality and not more. There were a lot of people living there."

A spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency, which manages the residence, said Saturday that 59 people were evacuated.

Orychock said he's not laying blame on anyone for the accident. "I'll wait until the investigation comes out to see what happened. It was maybe multiple factors that led to this happening.

"Hopefully, whatever comes out of the investigation, they'll rectify things so it doesn't happen to anyone else," he added.

Doug MacKenzie, the provincial fire marshal, said in an interview Saturday that it appears the propane tanks and lines were within the regulated distance of the building, but he said the volume of snow involved was unprecedented.

"This is an unusual amount of snow to have fallen, and we have solar panels which act like a metal roof to cause large amounts of snow to slide off," he said.

The city's acting fire chief, Chris March, has said the explosion at the seniors residence was one of four incidents reported to his department last week about snow striking propane lines.

The province is expecting another snowstorm to hit on Tuesday evening, with 20 to 25 centimetres forecast.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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