The Toronto propane explosion (also known as the Sunrise Propane incident) was a series of explosions and ensuing fire that took place on the morning of August 10, 2008, in Downsview, North York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The explosions occurred at the Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases propane facility, located near Keele Street and Wilson Avenue around 03:50 ET. The blasts caused thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes and cost C$1.8 million to clean up, half of which was paid by the province of Ontario. An employee of Sunrise died in the initial explosions and a firefighter died of cardiac arrest the next day while at the scene.
Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases was a company that sold propane for commercial and home purposes, in addition to other gases like helium and acetylene. The company has operated under a number of names since at least 1999. In 2002, a company named Sunrise Petroleum was successfully sued by First Choice Petroleum Inc., an oil and lubricants supplier, that claimed the company owed them C$54,063.73 in products and that Sunrise forged a document to avoid settling their account. In that case, it was found that Sunrise had forged the signature of a First Choice employee named Thomas Tims in a 1999 document, which stated Sunrise Petroleum would be taken over by a new company called Sunrise Petroleum Lubricants, and that Sunrise Petroleum would thereby not be responsible for any outstanding, unpaid, or unsettled accounts. However, Tims would not have signed the document because he was listed on it as "Tim Toms", rather than Tom Tims. As a result of the case, Sunrise was forced to pay the account owed plus interest, totalling C$93,389.54, and an additional C$34,284.71 in legal fees. Court documents also revealed a third name, Sunrise Propane & Petroleum, that the company had previously used.
An Ontario corporate profile states the facility was incorporated in 2004, though a Sunrise corporate solicitor and spokesperson is uncertain how long the facility was in operation. The facility was built in a residential neighbourhood in the North York area of Toronto. Toronto mayor David Miller stated that the facility was allowed to be built in the neighbourhood under zoning that was in place for over a decade.
The facility had previously been warned by Ontario's Technical Standards and Safety Authority for its lack of safety by not stopping truck-to-truck transfers at the company's facilities. During the investigation following the explosions, investigators found that truck-to-truck transfers were common at the facility. Truck-to-truck transfers are prohibited in Ontario because they increase the risk of a gas leak or a fire.
At approximately 03:50 ET on the morning of August 10, 2008, a large explosion occurred at Sunrise Propane Industrial Gases, located near Murray Road and Spalding Road. This was followed by a series of explosions which sent large fireballs and clouds of smoke billowing into the sky. Large pieces of metal from the exploding propane tanks were ejected onto nearby streets and properties. Many homes and offices were damaged, windows were shattered, and doors were ripped from their hinges. About 200 firefighters battled the seven-alarm fire that resulted from the explosions.