Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thousands evacuated after stage collapses at Ottawa Bluesfest from "sudden tornado-force wind storms"

Thousands of people were evacuated from Ottawa’s Bluesfest on Sunday after the stage collapsed during a Cheap Trick concert.

Ottawa Fire Services confirmed Sunday evening that no one was trapped underneath the stage.

Although there were initial reports of injuries, the official Bluesfest statement released via Twitter just after 8 p.m. said, “There are no serious injuries on site.”

Several minutes later, Ottawa fire tweeted that the area underneath the crumbled stage had been searched a second time.

Concertgoer Pamela Cogan disputed the Bluesfest statement, saying a pole broke off the back of the stage and hit Cheap Trick’s driver.

“I held his head until I got him into the ambulance,” said Cogan, a respiratory therapist at the Ottawa Hospital who is also trained in first aid.

She said he suffered head and leg injuries and a cut on his stomach.

“I can’t understand how people on the stage weren’t hurt,” said Cogan, who said she was standing about three metres away when the storm hit.

The Sunday evening programming at the multi-day outdoor concert was cancelled after the violent storm.

Bluesfest videographer Alex Gebethner, 24, was on top of the tower in front of the main stage with a group of people, including Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, when the tornado-force winds hit around 7:20 p.m. Cheap Trick was about 20 minutes into their performance, but was able to get off the stage safely. (more)