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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

ECHRS remembers 1980 explosion virtually

EFP File photo

by Sylene Argent

Starting on the afternoon of Thursday, February 4, the Essex & Community Historical Research Society (ECHRS) will make available a 28-page PDF on its website that outlines the events of the 1980 explosion that took place on Valentine’s Day in Essex Centre. The document will feature a timeline of events, photos, and some actual audio recordings of calls that went into police regarding the incident.

  In the early morning hours of February 14, 1980, an explosion that took place in Essex Centre could be felt miles away. The cause of the explosion was when a car hit a gas meter. Seven buildings were destroyed as a result.  

  The document recites responses from Essex Fire & Rescue, makes note of the trial that followed the incident, and speaks of the damage it caused the downtown area.

  “The best thing,” Laurie Kowtiuk, President of ECHRS, said of the document, “Is the original cassette tape of the few calls that came into the police, the night of the explosion.”

  She added, “This tape means a lot. Listening to people and looking at these photos are just almost unbelievable.”

  Kowtiuk noted it, “Is truly amazing that no one was killed. Good thing bars closed earlier in 1980, [at]1am. This explosion was well heard all around the Town. One call is from a lady who lived on Gesto Road.”

  Local author, “Fred Groves” provided information about the local event from his book, “Rising from the Rubble.”

  The members of the ECHRS work to preserve and promote local history for future generations to learn from. ECHRS will gladly accept pictures of the 1980 explosion that they can duplicate and archive.

  Kowtiuk urges everyone to log onto once the document is published to learn more about the event.

  It was “truly a memorable event,” she said.

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